Long before I was even pregnant with our first child, my husband and I sat on the sofa together and debated the future careers of our future children. I always hoped for boys and was dead set on them playing rugby for England. My husband was very happy with that idea, but wanted me to consider them being professional golfers (more money, apparently) or martial arts ninjas (more kudos, apparently).
Our conversations notched up a gear when I was pregnant, especially when it was confirmed that he was a boy. I could imagine him wearing his first little rugby kit (one day, a newspaper would run a photo of him wearing it as a baby, alongside a photo of him running onto the pitch in his England strip). And when we debated names, I made sure that they would work well for every dream future career – for Prime Minister, but also England Number 10.
Oh yes, I had big dreams for our boys before they even made it out of my tummy.
Fast-forward three years and all that is forgotten.
My biggest ambition for them now is to make it to the end of day without a full-blown wrestling match on the living room floor over who gets to play with an Etch a Sketch.
As milestones creep up, my ambitions shift to that for a while. When potty training, I started to dream of a time when we could make it through the day without accidents. And when that happened, a time when we could make it through the night without pull-ups. And after that, a time we could move him into a bed and he would stay in it.
I dream ahead a little bit – but not too far.
I imagine flights where the boys sit quietly, transfixed by the TV screen in front of them. I imagine holidays where I can relax with a cocktail by the pool. I imagine Saturday mornings when the boys actually want to stay in bed. I imagine lazy afternoons without Peppa Pig making an appearance.
The thought of the boys playing rugby only crosses my mind when the small one tackles the big one and I think: ‘Yep, he’ll be a good player”. But seconds later, I am back to cleaning yoghurt off the floor with a pack of baby wipes, so rarely have have time to give it another moment’s thoughts.
The main thing, of course, is that I don’t want them to be big yet. And the thought of them running out onto a pitch in an England top, whilst admittedly quite cool, is also a bit heartbreaking.
As for now, I just want them to be little boys.
I want them to be healthy.
I want them to feel safe and secure.
And I want them to enjoy a few quiet moments with an Etch a Sketch without their brother trying to take them out.
As at some point quite early on this journey of motherhood – probably around the time my first baby clocked me and gave the biggest, most beautiful smile – I realised that some things are more important than who writes his future pay cheques.
And I realised that it wasn’t my place to decide these things for my boys.
I realised that I really wouldn’t care if they never played rugby or if they sucked at being ninjas.
I realised that I just want them to be themselves.
And most importantly, I realised that I just want them to be happy.
And that is all.