This week my daughter finally bid farewell to her bedtime bottle of milk. At three, I know it’s not like this shouldn’t have happened quite some time ago, but it didn’t. We tried going cold turkey on the bottle months ago, but after a few horrid nights, the need for sleep and peace overtook our determination to help her reach this milestone.
Ever the headstrong captain of her own ship, our daughter had decided she was ready to say goodbye to the bottle on her time and not a day sooner. And just like that, it was done. I was happy because this also would start to mean her staying dry throughout the night and then eventually no longer needing her pull ups at all. I was also a little sad because that bottle and those pull ups were the last vestiges of her babyhood.
I know, she’s three. In two years, she’ll be ready for elementary school. She speaks in complete sentences and runs (fast), eats food on her own and doesn’t even need me to get her dressed (unless we’re talking buttons along the back or something). In many ways, she has grown into a beautiful, independent, incredible (and at times incredibly frustrating) little girl. Why get all sentimental now about things such as this?
She is our first and will be our only one, so once she’s through a stage, that’s the end of it. Gone now are the baby clothes, the changing table, the rocker, the crib, the baby books and toys. It’s not that I can’t let go and move on from being a “new” mom of a baby to a seasoned survivor of a toddler. It’s just hard sometimes when I realize that those days that felt so long are just gone. I’m excited for her to keep growing and changing, to see who she becomes, but am also sad to think that the time just passes so fast and kind of wish it would slow down a little. I’m just full of contradictory emotions on this subject.
I welcome her developments, her mental leaps, and her milestones. I was proud of her for being able to go to the bathroom on her own. I even was the one to buy her Elmo training potty when she first showed the slightest interest in using the toilet. I am impressed she can figure out YouTube on my phone (and keep finding those weird nursery rhyme videos she inexplicably likes), or recite her ABCs and numbers. I encourage her to try new things, be they soccer, ballet, or something I am making for dinner. Forward progress is a thing to appreciate and support, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t get just a bit sentimental that there is a part of her life, and ours, that’s now in the rear view.
I had my daughter when I was 37. Many of my friends who had children had them younger than I did. I even had a couple of friends who sent their oldest children off to college this past month. I can empathize with the mixture of excitement they felt for their child and their new life, as well as wanting to hold on to them and protect them in a way they no longer could. Clearly, I’m not sending my three-year-old off into the world yet, but I suppose I can relate, in a different way, to having to let go in order to let them grow.
So, yes, without fanfare or some elaborate scheme, the days of bottles at bedtime are a thing of the past, and soon so will be a number of other things as she continues to grow and mature that I don’t even have the emotional capacity to think about right now. My girl is growing up and while this is hardly a new development, me having all these crazy “where is the time going” feelings kind of is. I don’t know why this particular thing has been so jarring, albeit welcomed and a long time in coming. I guess as a mother, or a parent, because this isn’t really just a “mom” thing, you never stop being both happy and sad (or maybe more like sentimental) with each passing stage. Letting go and letting them grow, logically, is the right thing to do. And while this is healthy, it doesn't necessarily mean it's easy. Blasted bottles and all the emotion they visited upon me today!