The thing about babies, is that eventually, they all grow up.
I don’t think many people, before kids think to themselves ‘I can’t wait until I am up to my armpits in toddler poo because they missed the potty. Again’ or ‘I can’t wait until I am fighting with a nine year old about doing their homework’ or ‘I am really looking forward to teaching my over-anxious sixteen year old daughter to drive’.
No one actually sets out to have kids. Not with any real clarity.
When I thought about having kids, it was always still images. A family portrait of shiny happy people. Kids sitting around a Christmas tree unwrapping presents. Watching one of my children at a graduation ceremony. A wedding. Those emotions were easy to summon and understand.
No, like many people, what I really wanted was a baby. I knew that inevitably the baby would grow up but I certainly had no concept of what my life would be like when the babies became children. This is because all the glossy magazines tend to print lovely pictures of cherubic babies, gummy smiles, round bottoms and chubby thighs. Crawling babies, sleeping babies.
Did you know that before I had children of my own, I actually thought that babies crawled for about two years. Embarrassing, but true. Look at the TV, at the magazines. All the babies seem to get stuck at the crawling stage. So you can imagine my shock when my babies crawled for a grand total of four months. That was it. I felt quite ripped off.
|One of the few photos I have of a crawling baby... this one is the Bombshell at 11 months|
So there we are, wanting to have the babies we all see in the magazines. But magazines are silent. They don’t give you a real idea of what life with a baby is really like. They don’t explain that there are a whole bunch of hours in the middle of the night that you will become intimately acquainted with. They forget to mention the debilitating effect on your body, your memory, your dignity.
It’s only then that you start thinking about kids. How it will be ‘easier’ when they are older. They will sleep better. Eat better. Wipe their own bums. If you’re lucky.
And so today, on the first birthday of my youngest daughter, I feel that I am at that precarious and precious place where I still have a baby (who I love and adore, and I can laugh at her wobbly crawling, her inability to back-chat, her awesome appetite, who still has a gummy smile and chubby thighs) yet I also have the almost six-year old (who is becoming so independent and reliable, who I walk out the door with without needing to pack a bag of ‘stuff’, who can help out around the house, who loves to learn and to teach) and of course my gorgeous, complicated, conflicted three year old in the middle (who doesn’t know what the hell she wants to be).
This time is fleeting and the days of the baby are coming to an end. I know one day she will start walking and talking and I will then introduce them as my ‘three girls’ and not ‘my two girls and a baby’.
Do I miss the night time breastfeeds. Not really. Do I miss the swollen belly and little kicks from within. Sometimes. Will I go back and do it a fourth time. Na uh.
But did I ever imagine myself being a mother of three, pleading at the top of my lungs with them to stop fighting, knowing full well that half the neighbourhood can hear?
Did I dream about stacking the dishwasher with eighty thousand drink bottles all decorated with Dora or Disney?
Did I see myself bum up, on my hands and knees as I poke under the couch for the baby’s dummy?
Did I plan on being in my nightee at 7 o’clock in the morning, tipping a box of pungent nappy bags into the bin as the neighbours walk past?
Was it a dream to eat breakfast at 5am, lunch at 11am and dinner at 4.30pm and passed out on the couch in front of MKR at 8pm?
Did I have a clue about covering books with contact, remembering which day is library day and which day is sports day, or what the hell a sight word is?
No. I admit that none of these things even occurred to me almost seven years ago when I decided I wanted to have a baby.
Would knowing any of it have changed my decision, prevented it, delayed it?
Not in the slightest.
Because the good thing about babies, is that even though they inevitably grow up and become kids, they only do it one day at a time.
Mostly the changes as so small they are unnoticeable, especially to mums, up to their eyebrows in it every day. And it is only when there is a major milestone – or a birthday – that you stop and exhale and wonder on earth what happened to last year, and where did that little baby go?
|Happy First Birthday Baldy|