I packed up some of the baby’s things this weekend. Her high chair is awaiting a new home. She has outgrown some of her toys and when I dressed her on Friday I realise she has taken another one of those growth spurt yokes which means that a wardrobe filled with 18-24 month clothes will soon be passed on to my baby niece.
Of course there are upsides to this all. My kitchen will seem bigger without the highchair in it. The toys she has outgrown will be removed from the clutter of our playroom and maybe she’ll actually be able to reach the toys she wants to play with. And for the clothes... well I’ll always welcome a wander through the girls’ section in Next.
All that said I do have pinch myself that she’s now very fast approaching two years of age and quickly moving away from baby and toddler territory into proper wee girl mode. On Sunday we tidied the garden together, just the two of us. (The boy and his daddy were watching Liverpool beat Chelsea and cheering like mad things). We wandered around and tidied the toys, brushed the paving stones and cleared away the plants the snow and frost had annilihated. With her mini watering can she copied my moves and we chatted for an hour as we went about our business like two old friends having a gossip.
When we went inside, I helped her put on her apron and we set about making the dinner together. After her bath later that evening she handed me a bottle of nail polish, waggled her fingers at me and said: “Some mammy, some” so I painted her nails, then my own and we sat there very proud of ourselves indeed.
It dawned on me then that no matter how hard I may have tried to deny it, she is growing up and there is nothing I can do about it except try to embrace it as much as possible.
Now this time of year is always a bit wobbly for me. The boy had his birthday last week and turned seven - going on 17. And it is a mere three weeks til madam’s second birthday celebrations. I tend to think back and remember being pregnant, or longing for their arrival, or dreading labour or cradling my newborn at this time of year.
In those days I wished so much of it away. I hated being pregnant. It may well be a perfectly natural state but it is one which violently disagreed with me both times. Instead of blooming and glowing, I inflated and boked. I had horrendous heatburn and waddled in a most ungainly manner from pretty early on. I also became an hormonal monster. Seriously? If you wanted an a stereotypical hormonal over-reacting woman you only had to look in my direction. (Although by the end no one would look me directly in the eye for fear of being turning into stone).
Labour was nothing something I looked forward. To protect my mental health I have blocked out most of the details of first time around. Second time was better, if louder and more sweary. On both occasions I got through the experience by telling myself that it would be over soon and there was much to look forward to.
Of course when it was over I found myself stuck in that strange twilight of existence that comes with having a newborn - where you don’t know if it is night or day, winter or spring or even - on occasion - what your own name is.
And I got through that by wishing away the very early weeks - praying for a routine and half decent sleep and the chance to have a shower.
Then, of course, I longed for the first smile, the first tooth, the first word, the first step. With the boy I seemed to be constantly looking forward to his milestones. I’ve been more relaxed with his sister - perhaps because I know how too fleeting it is. I’ve wanted to keep her a baby for longer - something she has herself been keen to shake off almost as soon as she was born. More independent than her brother she has resisted any babying her sad old mammy has tried to foist upon her.
But if she still has a fondness for a dummy, I’ve not overly discouraged it. (Although surgical removal may be an option we have to look at the coming months.) If she still longs for her ‘bo bo’ at bedtime, I’m only too happy to heat the milk for her. If she wants to climb into her pram rather than walk (which isn’t very often) I’ll let her and of course I never turn down a cuddle - and sometimes in a bad mammy move even grapple her into a bear hug to allow me to cuddle her.
As my children grow, and I get older, I find myself in a sort of mid 30s crisis. I’m resisting the turning of the years for myself as much as I am for them.
In an act of rebellion against it all I’m thinking of getting a tattoo (which yes, I know is hilarious given my pathological fear of tattoos) but I’m seriously considering having the words ‘This too, shall pass’ etched on my person.
Just as the bad things pass, so do the good things and time moves very fast indeed. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that and cherish the small things - like tidying the garden, cooking the dinner and painting your nails with an exceptionally cute baby girl.
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