I had a little boy – so I dressed him like one, right from the beginning. Little skinny jeans, T-Shirts emblazoned with band names, teeny tiny Converse and Timberland boots. When he rolled, I cheered. When he crawled, I leapt in celebration. When he walked, I cried happy tears. I took pictures on his first day of nursery and felt proud as punch as we walked to his classroom. I woke on each birthday with butterflies of excitement in my tummy. I fist pumped when he spoke his first words and declared him a genius as his first sentence left his lips.
In classic first mummy style, I couldn’t get enough of the growing up thing.
And then my second baby arrived – and everything was different.
As I unpacked the boxes of baby clothes and came across the 0-3 month pieces, I looked at them and felt shocked. Did I really dress my tiny newborn baby in those jeans? I threw them aside. And those printed T-shirts? They were discarded too. Did I really bother to lace his tiny feet into those shoes? They were flung onto the pile.
When it came to dressing the new baby, I kept him in babygrows for as long as possible. I wanted him to look like a newborn baby, not a little boy. I kept dressing him in my favourite little onesie until it was so small that the poppers flew open whenever he moved – and one Saturday morning, my husband took it off him, walked into the nursery, and flung it back in the cupboard. I cried silent tears, as I knew it meant he was growing up.
Still, I didn’t let him wear the jeans and rocker T-Shirts. He stayed in soft leggings and pale colours – and at night, I loved seeing him back in those onesies.
He is now nearly 20 months old, but he is still my baby.
I celebrate milestones, as I am proud of him, but each one comes with a wave of sadness (and fear, knowing how much trouble a rolling, crawling and walking baby can cause). It means he is growing up and I don’t think I’m ready!
I want to carry him everywhere, even when my arms feel like they are dropping off. I let him drink his milk from a bottle as he struggles with a cup. And when he cries in the night, I go and get him – and I enjoy feeling him next to me as he drifts back to sleep.
I am in no hurry to potty train, to banish his dummy, or to hear him recite the alphabet or count his fingers and toes. I am not ready to let him cry at night so that he becomes the world’s best sleeper, nor ready to watch him climb under a duvet in a toddler bed and drift off to sleep.
I loved watching his older brother grow up – but it taught me something.
He had years ahead to wear those cool clothes, show off his vocabulary, and put on his own shoes.
But his babyhood disappeared in what seemed like seconds.
So given the chance to do it all over again, I am clinging onto that babyhood for dear life. Because I know that one morning soon, I will glance at him and see a boy.
I know that he won’t fit between us in the bed forever. I know that he won’t always cry out in the night, walk around clutching his cuddly monkey tight in his fist, or speak a jumble of muddled up words.
But I’m not ready for it all to stop yet.
I’m not ready for him to grow up.
Just not yet.
I need a little bit more time.