“Oh, you don’t need that.”M said to our friends, gesturing to the stroller they had just pulled out of the trunk and were snapping open.They looked at him, confusion written on both their faces.
“Uh, honey, yes they do. Their kid doesn’t walk yet, and she’s heavy.” I gestured to the one year old perched on her mother’s hip, struggling to be put on the muddy ground.
Our own two kids were standing nearby, patiently waiting for everyone to gather their things. M looked down at them, light dawning. Little L has been a good enough walker and listener for months now that the stroller has truly become more of a hindrance than a help. A year ago we would never have dared leave the house without making sure that we had a) the stroller, b) the sling, and c) another back-up mode of transportation with us. Today we’ve finally reached a point in our lives where we can just grab our keys and dash out the door. No diaper bag, no stroller, no sippy cups and snacks, nothing but the kids and us.
It’s a bittersweet milestone to have reached. A sign that my little one really isn’t a baby any more. As she’s so proud to proclaim, she’s a “big girl” now. We’ve moved on from being a family with a young child. We’re a family of four; two little girls and two grown-ups, no more babies here.
I’ve been sad these past few weeks, seeing how big Little L has gotten. She’s wearing 3T clothing, talks a blue streak, and does a million other things that prove that she’s no longer a baby. But I mainly notice it when I hold her in my arms or cuddle with her on the couch. She’s all arms and legs. There’s no way to tuck her against me the way I’ve always done. She’s outgrowing her toddler body and morphing into a preschooler and it’s been killing me to see the last of her babyhood slip away.
I grabbed Little L’s hand, C grabbed her daddy’s hand, and the four of us headed towards the entrance of the Marine Biology Center we were there to visit. Both girls skipped along, excited to go pet the star-fish. I clasped the little hand tucked tight in mine and smiled down at the little girl bouncing by my side as she chatted about the fish we were about to see and the massive whale skeleton we passed by the front. As we moved onto the paved sidewalk I heard the rattle of my friend’s stroller behind me. Little L squeezed my hand and pulled me towards the door. I smiled even wider. Going from baby to little girl isn’t all bitter, some days it’s downright sweet.