My biggest baby turns four in a week. FOUR! It’s just crazy. It seems like yesterday that I was hobbling out of hospital with a tiny little person, wondering how on earth I was supposed to be a mother without a manual in my hand.
But here we are – and it’s led me to start thinking about that journey (I hate that word, but you know, it kind of has been) and the up’s and down’s that have come along the way. I’m going to start with the hard bits, as I think we all know that the good trumps it a million times over. So here goes – and do let me know if you agree…
The Poorly Days
I know how lucky I have been to have two pretty much healthy children – and the odd occasion they have been conked-out-on-the-sofa poorly, I have had a small glimpse of what it must be like to have a child that is more seriously ill. Seeing someone you love so deeply suffer – and not being able to do anything about it – feels like someone is actually yanking your heart out of your chest. The first glimpse is when they get their injections as a newborn (did anyone else leave crying more than their baby?) and as they get older and can articulate the pain, I find it gets even harder. You’d swap places with them a million times over – and you wouldn’t have to think about it for a second.
The Broken Nights
Having said all that, it seems kind of insignificant to talk about the sleep deprivation. But when it stretches into months and years of never getting a full night on the pillow, it can seriously test you. I am enjoying full night’s sleep for the first time in over 2 years at the moment (and I’m not bragging, as to say our youngest child has been difficult at night is an understatement) – but when night after night stretches ahead, knowing you will be woken, it can take you to dark places you didn’t know existed.
The Hard Days
I’m talking about the days when I have hours stretched ahead of me to entertain two boys – who then decide today is the perfect day to have tantrums, refuse to eat lovingly-cooked food, throw drinks across the floor, run away as soon as we walk out our front door, use our cream sofa as a canvas for their felt tip pens, and then flatly refuse to nap / fall asleep at night. There are times I have lost my patience and regretted it, others I have buried my face in a cushion and screamed, and times I have simply thrown myself on the floor and sobbed alongside my delinquent child. Those are the hard days – and thank goodness we have enough moments to warm our hearts back up again (usually within seconds).
The Yearning For My Old Life
I’ve been feeling this a lot recently. Thinking back to the days I used to strut around London in my high heels, accepting invites without a moments thought. Travelling to see friends at the weekend, booking holidays without a moment’s thought for kids clubs and adjoining rooms. It’s the freedom I miss; the chance to be spontaneous when I want to be. I’m not saying I would swap the life I have now and my boys for a single second – but to say it hasn’t played on my mind over the last 4 years is an understatement. They grow so quickly and I do know that one day I will look back on this stage of my life with the same nostalgia. I hold that close, as it really has to be true.
I might sound like a crazy woman saying that I enjoyed the birth – but it isn’t the pushing bit that I’m referring to (although if the truth be known, I didn’t mind that either thanks to a couple of epidurals). I’m talking about the moments afterwards, where you lock eyes with a little person you’ve been imagining for so long and think ‘ahhh this is who you are!’ And then the groggy, sleepy hours afterwards, high on adrenaline and happiness. The calls and messages to family members, photos of a scrunched up baby pinged across the world, and the hazy first few days after you arrive at home. It’s so hard at times, but so wonderful too. And addictive too, it seems.
I’m talking about moments like the first time a drunk-like toddler waddles across the room and you practically explode with pride. The moment your child swims unaided for the first time and you flit between the urge to whoop for pure joy and dive straight into the pool to save him. The first time you are handed a drawing with a picture of you and the word ‘Mummy’ – and you immediately want to frame it. These are wonderful – and right from that first gummy smile, they make it all worthwhile a million times over.
Life moves at three thousand miles per hour – especially when you add more than one child to the mix. So the moments that we get to sit still, just for a few minutes, and hold our child close to us are incredibly rewarding. I love cuddles that smell of baby shampoo, cuddles where they bury their head into my neck, and cuddles where their sobbing bodies finally calm. It’s the little things, isn’t it?
This sounds so glaringly obvious, but seeing their happiness trumps everything. In the early days, it’s the smiles and laughing – those deep baby laughs that seem to come from the bottom of their stomachs. I loved that. And then as toddlers, when they start to show what they love and develop sweet little personalities based on what makes them happy. And then as they get older and can articulate that happiness, it gets even better. To know that these little people feel secure, loved, and ultimately happy is the only thing that really matters – and as corny as it sounds, it simply doesn’t get better than that.