I’ve been thinking a lot lately about phases. Phases our children go through. And it’s no mystery why: Monkey hit the five month mark yesterday and with the milestone came the realization that he really doesn’t need to be nursing three times per night anymore. So after this weekend, I’ll begin weaning him from his nighttime feedings. And because we’re heading out of town for the long weekend, tonight will, in all likelihood, be the last night that I feed any of my babies in my beloved, well-worn, yellow glider. As Bubba likes to say, “It’s bittersweet.” It is, indeed, darling.
At any given moment, my boys are each in the midst of several phases. Bubba is still wet at night, he’s obsessed with the Science Channel, and he’s certain that he’s called upon to help more around the house than any other child his age. Froggy sucks his thumb, began stuttering two months ago, and can’t EVER remember to flush the toilet. Monkey has reflux and wakes several times per night to nurse.
When I hear most people use the word “phase” (me included), there is definitely a negative connotation that goes with it. [“(sigh) We hope it’s just a phase.”] Maybe that’s because we’re clinging to the hope that these tough periods will be short lived and not lifelong struggles. And how many times have I thought that if I just knew how long the period would last, the phases would be so much easier to get through? (“Okay, Katherine, mark September 5 on your calendar because that morning Bubba will wake up dry and never be wet again.” Woo hoo! One more week – that I can do!)
Maybe we, also, use the word negatively because we hope that positive periods aren’t just phases. I fear that, one day, Bubba will decide that he no longer wants to hold my hand or snuggle in my lap. And Froggy will get too old to sleep with his beloved blankie MiMi and will stop blowing me sweet kisses (“mwah shhhh”). And Monkey will wean himself.
The truth is that the end of every phase – even the hardest ones, the ones I fall asleep every night hoping will be over tomorrow – is bittersweet. My babies are growing up, faster than I could have ever imagined. And the passing of each phase means they are rapidly approaching the end of the phase I dread most our leaving behind: my boys’ precious childhood.