Monday, September 30, 2013

Turn, Turn, Turn

We crossed over into Autumn some days ago, and though I've noted its coming in the air, the colors, and the shortening of days, it wasn't until this afternoon- out under the trees- that I was struck full-force with its arrival.

A new season, come 'round like years before. A cycle I well-know, and well-love (and hate).

Naught else can reinvigorate me in quite the same way as crisp Fall air after the seemingly-endless stagnation of late summer, but once the pumpkins have lost their novelty, the bright-burning leaf shades have smoldered into tones of decay, and the mornings have forsaken me, instead I mourn the loss of daylight that I once took for granted.

 This year, I find myself mourning yet another facet of the changing season.

Mia has started upon a new leg of her own personal journey, taking steps once taken by her older sister and brother before her in their own due time. She's tentatively breaking free of dependence on me as her sole nourishment as she manages her first tiny swallows of solid food.

I just can't get excited about it this time around- not in the same way as I did when it was my first, as well as Abby's. Just as my affection for beloved Autumn is tainted by the sorrow that it carries in its wake, the retracing of each old-new baby step brings ever-increasing feelings of bittersweetness my way.

Beyond the now thoroughly-established realizations of the many downsides now to come my way in the form of smellier diapers, more complex meal routines and messier mealtime aftermaths, I see in every bite she takes the future that awaits me not too far along the way.

Once impossibly-chubby legs, now lengthening with grace.

A tiny, tottering pre-toddler metamorphosed into unstoppable force of curiosity and mischief.

Mewling princess replaced by warrior queen.

Downy fuzz turned thickening mass of tousle-hair.

Trading the wild abandon of early toddlerhood for brief, but ever more common, moments of introspection.

I never saw it so clearly as now, but they each had seasons of their own- seasons that Mia is destined to follow.

Her infancy is half-behind us now, as we venture forth into the same old ground with a brand new theme. I can't help but draw parallels between my perilous relationship with Autumn and my reluctance to leave her babyhood behind.

It should make no sense that I love this season so, when it reverberates so hauntingly in-tune with the darker sides of my soul. Though I must move beyond my deep-budding despair to find enjoyment in the many beautiful things it has to offer, every year I make the effort to do so, and every year I feel more certain that I could never live in any place that didn't experience such a transition.

However, as I look at it in the context of the repeating cycles I've experienced in the raising of my own three children, I see that it boasts the same features that those very early years hold in abundance: fragility, transience, reminders of the preciousness of now.

As hair-wrenchingly difficult as these days have proven are still proving to be, I already sense how much I will miss them when they are gone. So it is that though I'll be rejoicing on some level in the vasts leaps of independence that Mia makes as the days press on, I will be dragging my feet ever harder than before at each approach. The wisdom I've gained from having done all of this twice before certainly tempers my daydreams of a time in some far-flung future when I'll have more moments to myself and nights to sleep again, knowing that such things will be found in a world where the familiar rhythms of babyhood have ceased their rotation.

I don't suppose I can ever again look at it as just a spoonful of banana mush. It's a new beginning, and a new end, all at once- a season perhaps to be re-experienced with another baby, but one day, some day: never again.