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Lasts

There are the lasts we know about, and there are the lasts we don’t know about until we look back and realize that it was the last.

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The twins are likely my first and last kids.  I use the term “likely” because it is too hard for me to say it definitively.  So I don’t.  I leave the door open to the possibility that another child will make their way into our family.

I don’t know when I will stop doing that.  When I reach a certain age?  I don’t know.  I think I will always be able to convince myself that there is a chance that I will raise another child; even after my own children have children or I am clearly moving into the denouement of my life.

I sometimes picture myself in the nursing home, a spray of white hair against my pillow, still saying, “The twins are likely my last kids, but you never know.”

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I didn’t know that the twins’ last birthday party would be their last birthday party.  In fact, their last party was such a success that as we drove home, I said that I would do the same thing next year.

But they dragged their heels on whether they wanted a big party, and after that ambivalence was conveyed, I didn’t really feel like spending the time or money on a birthday party.  A small activity with a friend, sure.  But managing 18 kids and running them through games if the twins weren’t wholly into it, no, thank you.  They agreed that small was better; that they’d rather do an activity than have a big to-do.

As I did yoga the next morning after the decision, I was flooded with grief.  That was the last party!  And I didn’t realize it would be the last party when it happened.  I didn’t take the right mental snapshots because I didn’t know I would never see this childhood ritual again.  This childhood ritual that I didn’t even like!  That filled me with dread every year!  What the hell was wrong with me?  Any sane person would be happy to be rid of it.

What did I expect?  Of course the game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey had to end some time.  So I pushed myself into downward facing dog and told myself to get a grip.

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There are obviously lasts that I don’t really miss.  I don’t miss the last diaper.  I don’t miss crawling.  I don’t miss having to hold them in the pool.  I don’t miss teaching them not to eat sand.

But there are the lasts that still gut me when I think about them: The last bottle.  The last lift out of the crib.  The last warm cuddle when they woke up from a nap.  The last day of preschool.  The last day of Kindergarten.  Every last day from every grade.

We are almost at the end of elementary school, and I think about this last every day while I wait in the carpool line.  It is partly fear of the unknown; of leaving the coziness of elementary school and entering the more self-sufficient middle school years.

But it is also mourning the lastness.  That I won’t get to do this again.

It goes so fast.

20 comments

1 Middle Girl { 05.06.15 at 7:54 am }

I remember as my son and daughter were growing up feelingtrapped by the various phases, wishing the e-n-d and then lamenting the end. All these years later some of the phases are vivid.

2 nicoleandmaggie { 05.06.15 at 8:12 am }

Lasts are always replaced by something new and amazing though.

3 April { 05.06.15 at 8:17 am }

I understand this so much. J turns 16 today. The last party is this year. We are reaching closer to the last first day of school. I look back and there are so many things I miss and realize that there won’t ever be these things again. And there most likely won’t be any other babies for us either. And it is so hard to say goodbye to each stage.

4 Karen (River Run Dry) { 05.06.15 at 8:41 am }

It’s like you’re inside me and have written all of my grief down for me. This – that I didn’t KNOW it was the last when it was happening – is the root of my grief. Right there. I didn’t know it was the last time, and now I’m forced to make peace with that ending I didn’t actually know was an ending.

It’s so unfair sometimes.

xoxo

5 Tiara { 05.06.15 at 10:15 am }

This touches my heart deeply & immeasurably. The part about keeping the door open to the possibility of more children & especially about the lasts. I feel the lasts very much. Even as I enjoy moments, it always crosses my mind, “Is this the last time this will happen?”

No, I don’t miss the last diaper or having to hold her in the pool, but oh how I miss that I was needed for those things…& now I’m not.

6 deathstar { 05.06.15 at 11:14 am }

People are forever telling me to enjoy my kid’s childhood while it lasts. They were right. I knew they were right when they said it even while I was dying to get out of the toddler/preschool age. I look at those pictures and I do remember those sweet moments, the awkward moments, the terrifying moments and the holy shit he’s awesome moments. And now that I’m experienced with those moments, I’ll never be able to go over and do them with the knowledge that I’ve gained. That’s so life… and that’s it’s unfair, don’t you think?

7 Ana { 05.06.15 at 12:55 pm }

The brutal knife wound of parenting. I feel this all the time. Its like a constant push & pull between wanting OUT of this stage, and mourning its ending.

8 andy { 05.06.15 at 2:00 pm }

you made me teary eyed thinking of all the lasts! I cried last night going through the PPV list on TV when I found a new Thomas the Tank movie that came out this year. A movie that I will never see. I miss trains….

9 Pam { 05.06.15 at 2:31 pm }

Will the twins be bnei mitzvot? That’s a party–right?

10 Working mom of 2 { 05.06.15 at 3:31 pm }

This may sound strange but I think I will miss the diapers.

And I remember in the early months people saying “oh enjoy this time” and I was like wha??? Time can’t move fast enough! Now I see newborns and I think “awwww”.

11 Queenie { 05.06.15 at 8:04 pm }

You just made me cry. I am no good with “lasts,” either, and it DOES go so very fast.

12 Lori Lavender Luz { 05.06.15 at 9:59 pm }

I’m feeling kind of sad about this myself, based on somethings that are going on here.

I’m trying not to take even the small things for granted. I want to be present at my life.

13 Valery { 05.07.15 at 4:15 am }

My two year old wants to climb back into her heritage crib. I think I do not feel so much the grief of the lasts, more the grief of the twin-that-isn’t.

14 Tara { 05.07.15 at 11:20 am }

I think about lasts a lot. Especially right now as I am going through a major life change (marriage separation/divorce, move, etc) there are so many lasts that I don’t know about. Sometimes I think, “I wonder if this will be the last time I do this…”. And like you, some things I am totally ok with being the last and something make my heart sting…

15 Mali { 05.08.15 at 11:59 pm }

I could have sworn I replied to this a few days ago. You made me think about the last time I spent with my father when we didn’t know he had terminal cancer. In retrospect now, I’m glad I didn’t know. I would have changed our relationship, and one of my most treasured mental images of him striding off up the hill as I drove away. I think that’s the thing with “lasts.” If we know they’re last, we inevitably change the experience. Maybe it’s a good thing we don’t know so many “lasts” are in fact the last time we will do something or see someone.

16 Jess { 05.09.15 at 7:10 am }

It made me so sad that you had a last and didn’t know it… I would definitely feel grief for that, too, even if birthday parties are awful in practice. I loved nicoleandmaggies comment. There are lots of lasts to come, but also lots of firsts. There must be so much letting go in parenting.

17 Justine { 05.09.15 at 2:26 pm }

I think about this a lot … the unknown lasts are the worst. Because you are completely blindsided. You don’t have time to prepare; you’re left only with grief. *hug*

I like what Mali said about lasts, too, though … that sometimes it’s good NOT to know that it’s the last, because there would be too much weight in that moment. We couldn’t enjoy it, because we’d be too busy thinking about the fact that it’s the last one. There was an NPR interview with the MadMen producer, and he was saying something similar about actors; he’d never tell them it was the last scene for their character, because then it would be complicated by their knowledge of it being the last …

18 Cassie Dash { 05.10.15 at 9:02 pm }

With a preschooler and a toddler at home, and another on the way, it is hard for me to imagine the lasts that you are going through right now. And some days, I long for them. To be done with birthday parties… To be approaching middle school… On the days when I am tired and long for the self-sufficiency of an older child, nothing sounds more glorious. And yet, I know I will mourn these days and every “last” alongside every other mother who has ever endured them. And sometimes that is my only consolation…to know I am not alone. To know that, like every mother who gets to watch her child grow up, I will experience every last, and I will grieve, and it’s okay. It’s how it’s supposed to be.

19 Cristy { 12.30.15 at 10:01 am }

Shame on me for not commenting about this post when it came out. Because it’s beautiful and there’s so much here I can relate to.

We’ve been experiencing a surge in language and independence lately. On the one hand, it’s so nice that we can finally communicate and that they are doing so much more on their own. But as the Beats are both our first living children and our last, we’ve been also missing the baby stage. Selling their cribs was very hard and seeing their infant carseats go to donation made me cry. Even seeing them whip through puzzles and toys that they struggled with as one-year olds brings tears to my eyes. Those stages are now over.

Abiding with you as you embrace those lasts.

20 35jupiterdrive { 01.02.16 at 1:08 pm }

I remember this post & couldn’t comment publicly on it at the time it came around. I was still in so much denial about the lasts that my injury caused me. I would never ski again! Never be able to do something like Nanowrimo again! It hurt. I was fighting it. (Maybe I could get a sled. A really safe sled with cushioned sides and back. A sled with airbags!) Now, I’m better. In acceptance and all that. But I wish I remembered the last time I was on skis. I wish I had pushed myself harder to finish Nano when I was physically able to do it. Etc, etc. So I understand, I do.

Beautiful post.

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