Little Z has just started self-feeding with a spoon over the last fortnight and she’s got really good really quickly!. Now, unless she instructs me, I am no longer allowed to feed her. For the most part that is fine by me – I can actually eat my own food . But I did also feel a small tinge of sadness when I realised that a milestone had been hit and there is no going back. Little H has also thrown a change into the mix during this same window – she has stop letting us sing to her at bedtime. From almost her earliest days we’ve sung “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to her twice before bed – a ritual I now carry on with Little Z. But it seems our eldest has outgrown this. For a few nights she allowed us to sing “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, mainly for amusement. Essentially though, the bedtime routine has forever changed.
That’s the thing with littles though – they don’t do things gradually and prefer a more all-or-nothing approach. A habit you either love or hate can disappear or fundamentally change overnight. It makes being a mother such an experience of emotions. When the ‘challenging’ traits bid farewell, relief starts to trickle into my brain. With 4 years of this job under my belt, I know an alternative version of the habit will reappear at some point. But for whatever the period proves to be, it’s one less thing to deal with for a time.
On the flip side though are the adorable traits, those things which induce a massive smile or make my heart leap. Now they are different. When they vanish, as dramatic as it sounds, my body floods with sadness. Because I know that something I loved is gone and I will never see it again. The memory of so many things have stayed with me and I smile when I reflect on them. But to this day, a tinge of sadness remains. Some of my most cherished memories include:
- The little ‘stretch face’ both girls pulled at a few months old after a sleep-inducing feed. Something that I never tired of seeing, even in the middle of the night.
- The funny way Little H used to say things: “tawter” for water; “bee-up” for tidy-up; “cullin” for colouring.
- When I could put Little Z into the sling, hold her head to my chest and sway so that she would fall asleep within minutes.
Parenthood is ultimately all about this though: a balance of loss and fain. These little folk before our very eyes and the parts of the personality that we have to bid adieu to are the necessary sacrifice for them to grow. And it is an absolute privilege to be there with them on every step of the journey.
I’ll end with something I read only days after I drafted this post, something which really resonated as it summed up what I was trying to say with this post far better than I ever could. Thank-you to Happy Grey Lucky for sharing and whomever wrote it in the first place!
From the moment you hold your baby in your arms, you will never be the same.Author unknown but taken from an Instagram post from Happy Grey Lucky (https://www.instagram.com/p/BwP0SOdnBdg/)
You might long for the person you were before,
When you have freedom and time,
And nothing in particular to worry about.
You will know tiredness like you never knew it before,
And days will run into days that are exactly the same,
Full of feedings and burping,
Nappy changes and crying,
Whining and fighting,
Naps or a lack of naps,
It might seem like a never-ending cycle.
But don’t forget …
There is a last time for everything.
There will come a time when you will feed
your baby for the very last time.
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child.
One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down,
And never pick them up that way again.
You will scrub their hair in the bath one night
And from that day on they will want to bathe alone.
They will hold your hand to cross the road,
Then never reach for it again.
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,
And it will be the last night you ever wake to this.
One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus”
and do all the actions,
Then never sing them that song again.
They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,
The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone.
You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face.
They will run to you with arms raised for the very last time.
The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
Until there are no more times.
And even then, it will take you a while to realize.
So while you are living in these times,
remember there are only so many of them
and when they are gone, you will yearn for just one more day of them.
For one last time.