My youngest child turns 5 on Friday.
I’m of two minds on this milestone.
One: It is implausible for me that this is happening. She’s my baby, my youngest child. It cannot possibly be time for her to be a little girl instead of a baby. She’s old enough to start kindergarten. (Well, not till next school year… but I’m indulging myself in my own little pity party – bare with me.) How can it be that she isn’t two anymore? With that toothy smile that was hilarious, her baby talk, her needing me so much. I will never again have a baby. Every month now she needs me a tiny bit less. It’s time for her to become a person separate from her mommy – and it is heartbreaking for me.
Which brings me to my second mind: It’s kind of freeing at the same time, her growing up. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve suffered from depression (postpartum and clinical) on and off (mostly on) since the birth of my first child. Maybe it’s unrelated, her growing up and leaving the baby stage and my feeling my depression subside, but I have to wonder because suddenly, in the last 3 or 4 months, I’ve begun to feel like “me” again. Not that I have my “old life” back or anything like that – I wouldn’t want to trade what I have now for my old life. I remember telling my OB/Gyn that I just wanted to feel like myself again when DD1 was about 6 months old. He told me I’d never feel like that person again… and I had stopped hoping that someday I ever would. I let that hope go years ago. But, since sometime in July I started feeling… I don’t know… more free. Free of shadows that were making me not so much myself. (“Shadows” is as close as I can get to the word I’m looking for. Murky vague darkness, suffocating but not. See? Writing is not ever going to be my strongest creative outlet!) Suddenly, I’m glimpsing and feeling me again.
You won’t see much of a difference outwardly. I worked really hard at appearing like everything was OK, and except for a few stumbles I think I did a pretty good job of being OK. It was exhausting pretending to be someone who didn’t really exist. I’m not as emotionally drained anymore, which in itself is freeing. I think I’m a becoming a better wife and mom now, and I can truly appreciate the blessings in my life. My life is good.
I don’t think I’m unchanged. Being a mom changes you. Depression changes you. But maybe coming out of a depression changes you too?
She’s turning five.