Dear Stupid Parents,
Last week, we passed Baby Boy’s 6 month milestone and this week, we’re on the countdown to Toddler Boy’s second birthday – that makes it two whole years since I’ve become a parent and to use an exhausted old cliche, I don’t know where the time is gone. I know everyone says it, but seriously, how has it disappeared just like that? It terrifies me to think that if 2 years can go so fast, so can 5 years and ten years and twenty – and as excited as I am to watch my boys grow and change, to be able to see more of who they are each day, I’m also feeling an unfamiliar ache of sadness as the time ticks by.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sentimental old fool; I allow myself to feel strong feelings without finding a need to hide them away and I’m not embarrassed about the fact that I tear up over things that might seem silly to other people but despite my soppy nature, in that initial year of first-time parenthood, I didn’t feel sad as time went on and I certainly didn’t dread the approaching milestones. I loved watching the months go by, learning more about my firstborn son and ticking off the weeks until his first birthday. It didn’t make me emotional when he grew out of his teeny tiny baby clothes, I didn’t feel an element of redundancy when he could hold his bottle himself, and when he started to crawl and climb the stairs, I couldn’t wait until he could walk and talk – I was so happy for him that he was doing so well and becoming such an independent little one.
Second time round though, it’s an entirely different story. As we reach the 18th of every month that marks Baby Boy becoming a whole month older, I – well, I don’t get sad or heartbroken or anything like that – it’s more that it’s the same joy and excitement that I felt with Toddler Boy but now it’s a little tinged with something else; like I want to reach the milestones but not quite so soon.
In recent months, Baby Boy has learned to roll and sit up and shimmy towards to the toys he wants that are just out of his reach, and I love watching him be so brilliant at figuring out how he can use his little body to his advantage. But with everything he learns to do, we edge closer and closer to him being able to do all the things that his brother can – which is pretty much everything. Then I’ll have two toddlers, and as exciting as that is, and as fun (and exhausting!) as it’ll be, when he becomes a toddler, he won’t be a baby. Yea, obvious, I know!
The thing is, I don’t even want to have a baby forever, not on a conscious level anyway. This kid is heavy but reeeeallly likes being held, he doesn’t sleep well so I don’t sleep well , he’s teething so cries in pain, he’s doing well with food but of course everything has to be mashed or pureed so that takes extra time; basically all the stuff that isn’t fun about having a baby, is happening right now, so what’s my problem? Why do I want it to last longer?!
Truth be told, I’m not really sure why it’s so different this time – maybe it’s because I’ve done the first year before and realise now just how speedily it whizzes by, maybe it’s because he’s a snuggly, clingy little one and I don’t want him to grow up and for me to be unable to protect him so much or maybe it’s simply because he very well might be my last baby and having spent my whole life looking forward to the time I’d have a baby, I’m now having to accept that that time has been and gone. Whatever it is and whether I ever understand it or not, my baby becoming not a baby hurts way more than the logical part of my brain understands.
This morning, two birthday cards arrived for Toddler Boy and I didn’t even want to open them because I thought it’d put a downer on the day. Instead, I did what I often do at times like these – I picked up my phone and scrolled through the pictures, starting right back from the day he was born. And I looked at how he’s grown, how handsome he’s got, how active and adventurous and awesome. And then I got to the pictures from yesterday afternoon when we went to the park and I remembered how attentive he was to his brother who adoringly watches his every move. How he often offers his brother bits of his snacks and tells me ‘go!’ when he hears the baby cry and it made me think that maybe it’s ok that they’re growing up. It’s truly a beautiful thing to watch their relationship blossom and whilst the yearning for babyhood is strong, I am admittedly, looking forward to how the next few years and decades will unfold and seeing how their brotherhood turns into a friendship. I’m trying to remind myself of the brilliant job Toddler Boy does in his role as big brother, and it’s sort of making me feel less dread about the day when there isn’t a baby in the house at all – when the toys are replaced with footballs, computer games and mobile phones, when my little people tower over me, when I don’t worry about whether or not they’re getting a cold because I’m too worried about whether or not they’ll come home at night! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to completely accept how fast these early years will pass but I can see that with every stage of their lives that we’ll all go through together, I’ll get to know them more and enjoy them more. My little babies will become boys who’ll become men and that’s really wonderful too. I will always be their mother and whether they like it or not, I will always tell them off when they mess up, and I’ll always kiss their foreheads when I can get close enough!
And above all else, my wise friend Jenny – who has three boys herself – once told me that to little boys, no one will ever be as great as their mama. I’ll take that.