Some might consider this post a year – or even two – overdue.
It’s the post where I finally admit that Baldy Baby, aka The Third Child, is no longer a baby. She is a little girl, three years old tomorrow.
It’s not just our children who experience rights of passage when they have birthdays. Let’s be honest, they’re really only interested in cake and presents at this age, and can’t really tell the difference between a birthday and Christmas, unless they are particularly observant about colours and the fact you eat cake instead of pudding.
But for parents, admitting that your youngest child is no longer a baby, can be a momentous occasion. It represents a shift in your status as a parent: one that can often lead to serious contemplation and navel gazing.
What am I doing with my life?
What have I achieved?
Will she ever get out of nappies?
Baby Number Three was an unexpected surprise for me. That’s not to say she was unplanned: on the contrary, she was highly planned and efficiently accomplished. But prior to that I had adamantly declared I only wanted two children.
It was only during my pregnancy with my now five year old Middle – The Curly Mop – that the possibility of a third was mentioned by my husband. Only once mind you, and obscurely at that: we were at my 19 week scan and I mentioned with a degree of sadness that this would be the final time we ever saw a baby of ours on the ultrasound screen.
All he said was ‘why is this the last time?’
That’s all it took for The Third Baby to become part of my life. Six little words. And the other bit, of course.
The simple truth is I can no longer claim to have a baby. If the child is old enough to say ‘no Mummy I KID now, not baby’, then you don’t have a baby any more. Even if she’s still in nappies, and still has a dummy at night, and still talks like an alien, if she’s able to debate every one of those topics with you (and win), then you don’t have a baby anymore.
While this is liberating in some ways, and I can chuck my baby stuff away with abandon, it also raises certain fears and doubts. Most of them centre around all the other things in my life, such as my writing, and the excuse that ‘having a baby’ (which brought with it certain leeway), has expired.
Shit. I might actually be expected to start performing.
So even though it is the Third who will be celebrating with presents and cake tomorrow, it’s me who is experiencing the milestone. I can say with certainly that the baby phase of my life is now over, and I have moved into the next stage.
What that brings with it, is anyone’s guess.
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