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Gratitude, and a Little Sadness, After Four Years as a Mom 

click to enlarge ELISA JÄRNEFELT
  • Elisa Järnefelt

I gave birth to my daughter four years ago. Although I still remember every moment of it, this year the experience of birthing and holding our baby for the first time does not feel recent. As we enter into a new May, I can sense that time has passed. I do not feel our birth story viscerally anymore. Instead, the story has transformed into a tale that our daughter wants to hear over and over again.

Just as her birth story is evolving, I am also noticing the various ways in which baby-like qualities are disappearing from our daughter's features and actions. She cuts skillfully with scissors, illustrates complex drawings of various animals, hikes to the top of small mountains and listens to podcasts. In her favorite episode of "But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids," host Jane Lindholm and psychology professor Celeste Kidd discuss the fact that, though our own children will always be the cutest kids in the whole world to us, strangers generally begin perceiving children as less helpless and cute at age 4. Four is when children become truly able do things by themselves, the age when they start becoming their own person.

There is a tinge of sadness when I consider how quickly time passes but also gratitude that I'm able to witness my daughter's development. One afternoon, when thinking about her upcoming birthday, I decided to push the melancholy aside and did what I do with her a lot nowadays; I asked about her thoughts.

"This is your last month as a toddler," I said. "How does that feel?"

She looked at me and answered: "Good, maybe a bit nervous."

Yeah, that is how I feel, too.

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