After an intense two-week purge of all remnants of my home daycare, which I officially closed in June, I realized quite suddenly that I was there — free of all traces of anything baby. No more baby gear and gates. No more high chairs or cribs. No more infant chew toys or baby saucers. No more baby latches on cabinets. Just a house tailor made for my school-aged — my youngest is a rising kindergartner — children. And it has left me with such contradictory feelings, I’m not sure whether to cheer or cry.
At first I was excited by the idea. We were finally able to create that special big kid arts and crafts nook we wanted. We were able to put out some more delicate decor. My husband was able to move some of his stuff out of the garage and into the basement. Our options were not limited by the steady stream of infants, toddlers and preschoolers coming into our home. What I didn’t realize was that by removing all traces of my daycare, I was also saying goodbye to that stage of life. I was saying goodbye to bald-headed snugly babies. I was saying goodbye to witnessing first steps and first teeth. I was letting go of all the baby things from my own kids that I stealthily hung on to under the guise of needing for my daycare kids.
I love that my kids are at an age where we can hop in the car and go somewhere without too much planning or lugging of gear or supplies. I love that my kids can sit around the table and tell me stories or share in jokes. I love that my kids can express their distinct personalities and keep us on our toes — for reasons other than learning to use the potty or potentially falling down the stairs.
Yet, for some reason it was more difficult than I thought. I know it’s just things. Bulky things that were often stained and well worn. But, it still stung all the same. I almost couldn’t look when my husband loaded the stroller into the car for the last time.
Right now, my house and family is going through many transitions. I am working outside the home at my new business. My youngest is heading to kindergarten. My oldest is heading into his senior year in high school and is already visiting colleges (another thing I am in complete denial over). I am trying to focus on the many blessings that come from these changes, but, it would be false to pretend like all the changes are without some trepidation.
I am absolutely ready for what is next and am not interested in looking backwards — or starting that whole season of parenting over again. I am, however, taking note of the end of another chapter in my life. A chapter that lasted so long and at times felt infinite.
I suppose that is the hardest part — realizing that nothing in this life is truly infinite. Time always passes. Children always grow up… and so do we. What I can cling to is that whatever happens the love we feel always remains. No matter how many toys my kids outgrow or which college my son chooses to attend, I know that they will always be the loves of my life. They will always be my babies — with or without the gear and gates.