The Baby’s Journey

Young man with back to the camera with a backpack over one shoulder looking at the mountains in the distance

When I was thirty-seven years old and about to start a doctoral internship in psychology, I found out I was pregnant with my son. I actually know how babies are conceived, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that I was pregnant. Yet years of infertility and my doctor’s suggestion that it would be nearly impossible for me to conceive again, led me to think that a third child wasn’t very realistic. Though the timing wasn’t perfect, my third child has been nearly so.

How different parenthood is with a third child. I’ve been calmer, more realistic, more accepting, and far less fearful than I was with the first two. My oldest often says our baby has different parents than he did, and he’s actually right about that. We know everything is going to be okay, so we don’t worry about minor illnesses, or friendship drama, or even what college he will go to. It’s all going to be fine and we get that now. My husband and I have been able to relax into parenthood in a way that we couldn’t when our first was born. We love all three of our children with every ounce of our being, but I do believe we’ve displayed it differently with all three.

Last month we began the process of helping our baby find a college. It doesn’t seem possible in that it feels as if he was born just a few weeks ago. Yet my baby is taller than I am and clearly ready to fly into his adult life. And though I am also ready to see him fulfill his adult destiny, my heart is heavy to think of him living elsewhere. When the baby leaves, he takes all remnants of a home full of children with him. I wept when my older two left but my baby remained so I still felt like a mother who was needed by her children. Now, as he pushes his autonomy and his independence, I can feel my nest getting emptier by the day. It’s as it should be, yet it still feels like a painful change in my life.

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My husband and I have begun to talk about life with an empty nest. There are many things we look forward to, but I sense the sadness that both of us carry as this part of our life rolls to an end. Parenting has been the most challenging, joyful journey of any that I’ve taken. Our baby extended the length of our needed nest for a few years and I’m profoundly grateful that he did. When my very surprised doctor confirmed my pregnancy, she said, “Clearly this little soul needed to find you.” How right she was, yet my soul needed him just as much.

My goal for the next year and a half of my baby living at home is to stay present and to enjoy my child for who he is and for who he will become. It is also to revel in these last few months of this round of parenting. Parenting never ends, but versions of it change. The baby’s journey is the last vestige of parenting young people while they live in your home. I won’t take that blessing for granted as my baby rounds the corner of his childhood journey and heads into his own adult life.


Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. CPC

Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. PCC

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About Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D, PCC

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I’m the proud owner of Smart Women Inspired Lives, where I help overwhelmed and exhausted women move from the feeling of being “stuck” into a life filled with calm, confidence, and joy. In addition to the posts and articles I write, I offer individual and group life coaching sessions, classes and speaking engagement opportunities.


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Comments to “The Baby’s Journey”

  1. In those moments when your baby goes off to college it feels so empty inside but I quickly found that I had the freedom to do so many things for ME. It’s been six years since my baby left for college and I find that she still needs me for advice and support, just not as often. I see a little bit of me in her actions and attitudes. That makes me happy and realize that I did a good job as a mom.