She can crawl now.
But she can crawl.
And her brothers are suddenly fascinated by it. They laugh hysterically from the sofa, jumping down to copy her, hand her toys, or (in Stanley’s case) cuddle her until she flops down on her tummy.
I watch them – and I am suddenly struck by the fact that I have three proper children.
Not two brothers and a baby.
Three actual children.
But it’s more than that. Because as I stand back and watch them, ready to pounce if she’s in danger of getting squashed or she approaches a toy that definitely isn’t baby friendly, I am suddenly struck by the fact that the boys have a sibling.
Not a little baby, to tickle or coo at in her cot.
But a sister.
To play with, to laugh with, to argue with over toys, and to bond with. And as I watch them together, playing on that rug with sunlight dappled in their hair, my mind skips forward.
And I think about the future.
I think about three children together on the beach, playing together in the sand, fighting over who gets the orange spade. I think about three teenagers in the house – two older brothers, keeping an eye on a younger sister, no doubt arguing over who gets to go in the bathroom first. I think about weddings, I think about big family gatherings, I think about a troup of cousins, I think about family holidays on mass, I think about Christmases years in the future. I think about the fact there are five of us now – and these flashes forward all seem very real.
And I know it won’t always be harmonious as they grow up together – but they will have one another.
When I was heavily pregnant last year, I worried a lot about how a new baby was going to change the dynamic of our family. I couldn’t wait to meet our baby – but I didn’t want her to change the relationship between the boys. I was pleased when I found out she was a girl, as the boys could still be brothers and nothing would touch their bond.
But watching them play together today, with the sunlight dancing in their hair, it suddenly became very clear.
I didn’t need to worry
Because they are working it all out for themselves.
And how beautiful – totally, gobsmackingly, tear-inducing, wonderfully beautiful – it is to watch it all happen.
Right there on the living room rug.