I have noticed I refer to my children as ‘toddlers’ but, er, they’re not. Not at all. They don’t toddle anywhere. They charge, run and bounce from one place to another. Loudly. They talk – shout – and have no problem telling me what they want and when they want it.
There are no blank stares from me as they cry at me without the words at their disposal. Well there are blank stares as they scream over orange juice being orange but they can certainly tell me what the problem is. They talk, for the most part.
They sleep through the night. They don’t nap.
Only one remains in nappies, but his days are numbered.
There is no more baby food. No ‘bot bots’ and no dummies.
They have all their teeth.
We barely use the pram.
They don’t even need me at soft play anymore.
Everything is ‘MY DO IT’.
My big one even knows the bloody alphabet and will be going to school in September. SCHOOL.
They are not toddlers anymore and they certainly are not babies. They haven’t been for quite some time and I don’t think I realised.
You see, when my second born was a baby I was perhaps guilty of wishing the time away. I celebrated milestones as they were a step further from the survival mode we lived in for so long. Having two babies in 11 months makes for an incredibly long baby fog. Especially when you have a premature and poorly baby who is essentially a newborn for a really, really long time. We lived in this phase for the best part of two years. Each milestone was a long time coming. He didn’t sit until he was 10 months, he didn’t walk until he was 17 months, he didn’t smile for 3 months. Needless to say we didn’t sleep either.
I knew that I shouldn’t be reaching for the next stage and I should just be enjoying having two small babies and at times I did. I did enjoy it but it would be a lie to say I enjoyed every moment. Some moments were so bloody hard and often pretty lonely.
The baby phase is all consuming, you loose yourself for a while. You hand yourself over to keeping these tiny babies alive and well. You’re body isnt your own, you’re head space often doesn’t feel your own. You don’t do the things you used to. The things that made you you are no longer at the forefront of anything.
I wanted some independence back before I was able to have it. I wanted some of my former life. I longed to be a bit more ‘me’ and less ‘getting through one day to the next’. I wanted to sleep. A long uninterrupted sleep.
I often wonder if my babies weren’t so close together would I have felt like this? I will never know but I don’t need to now.
Now a lot of this feels like a bit of haze – and they’re only 2 and 3. Don’t get me wrong it remains firmly etched in my memory but it seems a lifetime ago. I do not feel guilty that I sometimes wanted to speed the baby days up. A lot of it was fraught with worry and uncertainty. I know better than to think I should have enjoyed every second. I don’t beat myself up about that time or mourn the days that have passed. I don’t want to go back. I don’t think.
I enjoyed a lot of them, I made the most of what we had, as best I could. We didn’t let the difficulties get in the way, too much. Truth be told I actually feel like I achieved something by getting through it the way that I did. Make of that what you will and judge me at your leisure. I don’t care.
So why then, when I dismantled my daughters cot bed and put a ‘big bed’ in her room this weekend did I struggle? I kept stopping and just looking at the bed, unable to take out the baby bed and bring in the adult bed. I don’t want another baby, I am excited about the next phases of our children’s lives. How they will grow up, what school will be like for them and just being able to do more with them. Why was this whole bed situation such a damn trauma? Why do I write this with a twinge of sadness?
I don’t know. Maybe it’s the unavoidable contradiction of parenting. Perhaps it is because we truly can never go back and re-do, re-live or make better what once was. Maybe part of me, no matter how much I don’t want to admit it does want to keep them small and innocent, maybe my ego needs to feel like their superhero or is worried that as they grow they’ll see through my mummy-ing and realise I am not ‘the best ever’. Or maybe I was just scared those 8am wake up calls would come to an end if I changed her bed. Probably that. That’s why I haven’t actually dismantled the baby bed yet and why it is ready to be put back in her room at a moments notice.
I won’t tell you to enjoy every moment or to make the most of the baby days – I am not that person. I will say though as long and dark as it feels at times it ends and you probably won’t even realise.