Have you ever had grief creep up on you? You may have found yourself in the middle of something like slicing a tomato and all of a sudden you're hit with a wave of it? Or maybe you were itching to get out of that apartment and move into that brand new house you're so ready to make into a home. Except, come moving day you're flooded with the nostalgia of all of the good things that happened there.
Grief can be sneaky like that. And parenthood can be full of it. It's grief that frustrates you when you no longer have time for yourself. It's grief in that twinge of sadness that comes alongside the joy of watching your baby walk for the first time. It's grief when you suddenly look up and your children are grown, living lives of their own. Grief is sly-an unexpected guest in your home.
One particular way in which grief finds its way in is when you decide that you're done having children. Whether this decision was fraught with sadness or firm with confidence it can still show up at your door. Parents, often moms will express the shock of just how sad they are that their last baby is now out of her newborn diapers, has finished breastfeeding or is starting preschool. It's the finality of it. And even if there are 100 things you are thankful to be done for good (I'm looking at you midnight diaper explosions) there are those things that are hard to move from the filing cabinet of "present" to the "past" in your mind.
So how can you mourn this passing of time? How can you balance the need to slow down and breathe in the present with life (and other kids) swirling around you?
Mindfulness can be a great way to get started. Here is a helpful article that talks about how to be mindful while holding your baby. Other ways that can help you mourn and celebrate this special time:
- Writing and keeping letters for your child
- Photo albums (actual hard copies for you both to get out and look at together!)
- Making videos for your child
- Keeping memory boxes
Like all things related to raising a child there are peaks and valleys. The loss you feel today will be the loss you feel when he grows out of or transitions into something else ten years from now. The constant is your relationship, your bond with your child.
Allow yourself your joy and allow yourself your sadness. Your feelings are valid. The experience of raising your last child is valid. There's no need to push them or yourself during this time. Grieve, mourn and soak yourself in the joy. You won't regret it.