Goodbyes and Hellos
Shortly after the birth of my first son, I saw a social media post from a parenting account that said, “Parenting is a long series of tiny goodbyes.” To put it simply, I lost my postpartum shit. I immediately melted into a pile of sobs and hormones. How could that be true? I just welcomed the most beautiful little creature into this world and now I have to start saying goodbye? Unfathomable.
Tonight my second child is sleeping in his crib, in his own room, for the first time. For the first five months of his life, he’s slumbered peacefully in a Moses basket inches from my side of the bed. I remember when I set up the Moses basket for his brother and felt a sense of suffocation. Ever an introvert, I am someone who has a deep appreciation for my alone time and my own space. The sight of the tiny bassinet taking up the area so close to my bed was almost more than I could bear. How much more could I possibly give up? I had already given my body to the being squirming inside me. Now I was saying goodbye to the last remnants of my privacy and solitude.
As the time wore on, I learned to live with my baby sleeping so close. First I focused on the convenience for late-night feedings but eventually, I found pride in being able to calm his cries so quickly and I found comfort in his closeness. I would wake up every day to his cries, but also to see the changes and growth that happen so quickly at that young age.
But just as quickly as I discovered those feelings, it was time for him to sleep in his own room. He was ready. I was ready. And night after night, he got comfortable with sleeping on his own. He figured out how to self-soothe. He got comfortable in his crib and eventually outgrew the crib too.
So I was surprised when I set up the Moses basket in preparation for our second child that instead of dread, I felt like I was welcoming back an old friend. I knew that having another baby meant many losses: privacy, personal time, and control over my own body, but it also meant the expansion of our family and a new and wonderful person coming into this world.
As I sit with the knowledge that tonight was another tiny goodbye, I also know that it will usher in more hellos. Soon he will be crawling, walking, and talking. He will be eating and playing with his brother. We will fall more in love with the newest member of our family. So yes, parenting is a series of a million tiny goodbyes, each one bringing all of me closer to the time when my sons won’t need me anymore. But along with all those goodbyes, there will also be hellos. So I will sit for a moment and cry, mourning the end of this chapter. But then I will open the baby monitor app on my phone and I will watch my son sleep soundly in his crib, pondering all the amazing hellos to come.