“Once upon a time in parenting” – isn’t that just a lovely title?
It conjures a sense of the magical, the mystical, and the long ago.
The title isn’t mine, it’s The Busy Mama’s. She’s been gathering lots of bloggers’ thoughts on “parenting moments past” over the last few weeks, and now, as the shutter is about to come down on her linky I’m finally joining in. If you have some time (and some tissues) check out the fantastic collection that she has put together by clicking on the blue button at the bottom of this post. Keep reading for my thoughts on the matter.
Once upon a time, a long long time time ago, in a kingdom, far, far from here there lived…”
That’s how all the good fairy tales start. They continue with kings and queens, giants, elves, princesses and the occasional wicked troll or stepmother. That’s a lot like parenting really…
Nah, only joking, but that would have been an easy segue to my post. So I’ll just clumsily confirm that while it might not really be a long, long time ago (less than six years in fact for us) the days and years suddenly start to fly by once you have children. The days melt into each other, weeks punctuated by growth spurts, vaccinations and developmental checks, and then in what seems like moments later school terms.
It really does feel like a long, long time ago since I felt the first fluttery kicks of a baby in my tummy (it was a couple of months before I asked my obstetrician what I could take for the internal bruising that my ten pounder was inflicting. He laughed, I quivered, we never mentioned it again). It seems ages too since we chose the carseat and painstakingly learned how to put it into the car, or the day we brought our boy home, wondering when someone would come to pick him up and how they really believed that we could take care of him all by ourselves.
Fast forward a few years, and our little family is complete, our baby boys have grown into solid little men, they’ll turn 4 and 6 in the coming months. They spend every morning at school and playschool now (holidays excepted) carving out their own little lives, in their own little circles, independent of their parents.
Their little sister has a full year under her belt at this stage, she has found her feet and is now running around in the back garden on her own causing havoc, playing away and amusing herself (while tormenting her brothers at the same time). Despite the chubby cheeks and wadges of fat on her little arms she’s losing the “babyness” every day. And every day that she loses some I cling to what’s left a little more desperately. Her brothers were into “big boy pyjamas” before they hit the 9-12 month clothes, but I find myself looking at 12-18 month babygros, complete with feet in for her.
So, with the prospect of never again being pregnant, never again bringing a newborn home and never again having a baby in the house, what will I miss? (If my 4th child is reading this, we love you honey, we changed our minds, you’re the best thing that ever happened this family)
Well, truth be told, I never loved being pregnant, but I do look fondly at some aspects. I’m sad to think that I won’t ever again experience the excitement of that positive test, of my husband and I sharing the biggest, most exciting secret possible for weeks and not uttering a word to anyone else (nobody who knows me can believe that I managed this!).
I’m sad to think that I won’t ever get to meet a whole new small person that my husband and I made again, and look into their tiny half opened eyes, us both squinting at each other as we take each other in, face to face, skin to skin, me wondering what life holds in store for this cherished child, the baby wondering what light is. We won’t get to play the name game again, me tormenting my husband with lists of names and middle names until I go into false labour in a vain attempt to get him to engage on the topic (I only did that once, and it may have been down to something I ate.)
We won’t have that cocoony feeling of coming home from hospital and nesting in, giving ourselves over to the kids while the rest of the world goes about their business, and pastel coloured envelopes land on the mat.
We won’t feel the loveliness of a content newborn curled up snoozing contentedly on our shoulders, the warmth of their little body, and the occasional grunts and sighs they make, the little stretches that nearly turn them inside out as they wake.
Shallow me often laments the loss of my maternity wardrobe, when else will I ever own a capsule wardrobe of clothes that are on trend and that all fit me, and that I feel confident in as my lumps and bumps can be attributed to someone else.
But for balance, I won’t miss the heartburn, the backache, the not being able to roll over in bed without assistance, the swollen veins (places I didn’t even know that I had veins), the cankles, the colic, the screaming, the lack of sleep. It’s all worth it, but having a tiny baby is rough going, and while I coo and aww at others’ babies, and feel little pangs of broodiness when I see them, I think I find myself counting my blessings that we’re beyond that stage now. Mostly. Not always, mostly. We’ve had our magical newborn times, three times over, it’s been fabulous and we have so many beautiful memories, and every day we make more.
With each of Laoise’s milestones the thrill of her reaching the next stage is bittersweet, the delight for her is tempered by the twinge of sadness that that’s the “last first” here. The last first steps have been taken in this house, in the boys’ bedroom, very appropriately on her first night in “big girl pyjamas”.
We’ve a lifetime of firsts to still look forward to so while my eyes are a bit watery from remembering those tender moments that have passed, I’m resolving to make the most of every little thing, these long days and short years will fly by. And I think, that if we do, on our journey from that kingdom far, far from here, we’re sure to all live happily ever after.