I know that.
My almost five year old would still rather be on my hip than not. She likes to be picked up and carried, and I indulge her.
I didn’t do this with the others. Not really. Of course, with the others, I had another baby coming along when they were three or four years old. They naturally outgrew being held, because there was another baby. They weren’t the baby anymore – they were the “big kid.” I remember Sam used like to be carried up the stairs, and I was too pregnant to do it anymore. I’d make him start up a few steps and then I’d scoop him up with one arm and lug him the rest of the way up like a sack of potatoes. Eventually, it occurred to him that it was more fun to step up the stairs on his own.
Julie isn’t being pushed out of my arms. She’s still my baby.
But I’m wondering, now, if I’m doing her a disservice by not pushing her. Is she too babied? I hate saying “you’re too big to do X” but the reality is that she is getting too big. She’s too big for me to comfortably hold her for very long.
Part of is the kindergarten deadline looming. As I hoisted her up on my hip tonight at Jessie’s school function, I found myself thinking that her peers probably aren’t getting carried around. I took her out into the lobby during the school play earlier, because she was getting restless and impatient – is that appropriate for a five year old? I legitimately don’t know. I know I did it with Sam and Jessie when they were that age – but they always had a younger sibling that was definitely not ready to sit quietly and pay attention.
The reality is that my older two kids were pushed to grow up because they had a sibling come after them. They couldn’t be the “baby” anymore because there was literally another infant that took over that role. I like to think that I timed it right – the next baby came along when they were ready for that transition, and truly, neither one of them really struggled with any jealousy or misery around getting a new baby brother or sister.
Julianna is missing out on that. Someone had to miss out on the experience of being an older sibling – I couldn’t keep having babies forever. (Rationally, I totally know that – but there’s a tiny part of me that thinks that really doesn’t sound that bad)
Am I making her younger by not expecting her to be bigger? Does that make sense? She’s still so little to me – she still needs to be reminded to go to the bathroom and wash her hands, she still likes me to buckle her into her car seat and zip her coat up before we go anywhere. And I don’t question it (at least I didn’t question it…) because I just DO this stuff. I’ve been buckling and zipping and reminding for so long – it never occurred to me that she might not need it anymore. She might be just doing it all out of habit, just like I am. If I never point out that she could buckle herself, or zip her own coat – I just keep doing it automatically – will she ever outgrow it?
Does she have too? Because wow – I don’t know if I’m ready for my baby to not be my baby anymore. But we’re a few weeks away from her fifth birthday, and I think I need to get with the program here. She’s growing up, and I need to admit it, to accept it, and then make sure she knows it too.