If you ever have to create a science experiment for children I suggest growing beans. They’re incredibly fast growing, like super fast, so the results are great. The same goes for growing humans, if you want to see one grow quickly, get yourself a baby and then blink. One minute they’re just a nuggety lump of baby goodness, the next they’re wearing a uniform and lugging a bag twice their size off to big school. How does this happen?
I remember when my first born son was only days old and a well meaning woman commented, “blink and he’ll be at school”. I thought she was ridiculous, but she was so right. I blinked and two of them are all grown up and at big school and I only have one little treasure at home to spoil for another year before I blink and he’s sucked up by the school system, too.
I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting this past week and the truth is I didn’t really truly enjoy having my other two children at home the way I wish I could have. When I only had one child, I was so stressed about his weight, reaching his milestones, his sleeping patterns, if he’d had enough/too much milk, and generally just keeping him alive that I couldn’t enjoy him as much as I do now. I was an anxious first time mum, absolutely. I’d read all of the parenting books and stressed myself to the point of not being able to just enjoy being with him. I was trying to do my teaching job well and juggle my career with having a baby, and really there should never have been any competition between those two. Obviously I regret that now, but I couldn’t see then what I see now.
When I had two children at home I was stressed about, well, having two children at home. Again I was juggling my job with all it’s demands, and my young family. My eldest despised his younger brother, like he hated his (gorgeous, chubby) guts. It was horrible, I had to keep him away from the baby because he just wanted him gone and was determined to prove that he was Top Dog. That’s pretty much the way that relationship continued for many years, and I developed some significant refereeing skills that unfortunately consumed most of my time with the two of them when I should have been baking or crafting or doing the mum things I thought I’d fill my days with.
When I had all three at home I just about lost the plot. I dreaded grocery shopping, my boys’ behaviour living up to the gender stereotype. Doing the groceries consumed my life- dreading it, doing it, regretting it. And it was a necessity, it was all about the food. Middle Boy was a talented climber and loved to scale everything in sight, and I mean everything. Top Dog felt that it was his job to violently remove Middle Boy from the shelves he’d scaled, and a battle would begin in the nappy aisle. There would always be a childless woman standing there watching, telling me not to worry, that this time wouldn’t last forever, and I would smile and wish she’d disappear and stop watching my offspring.
I spent a lot of that time being annoyed, feeling agitated and like I just wasn’t doing a great job of parenting and my actual job became a great escape. Uninterrupted coffee once a day became very appealing. I’m sure it wasn’t all so doom and gloom, but there is an enormous contrast to what those years were like to how I spend my time with my baby now.
Now it’s just me and Baby and I love it and I really wish I’d had the sense to realise that those hard years with my boys wouldn’t last forever, to realise that each moment counted and couldn’t be redone. My Baby is four so technically not a baby, but totally still our baby. He had a struggle to be here (read about that here) so he really taught me to make the most of being with people I love. My whole perspective changed with him, I learned to just stop and enjoy it because every day really is a blessing.
So here I am with one left at home, absolutely devastated that I only have a year left with him at home and trying not to think about the fact that I only have one year left with him at home. I’m so grateful that I had the sense to realise how special this time is before it’s way too late. I’ve cut back on my days at work so that I can soak up all his loveliness before he walks through those gates as my baby and changes into a proper big boy. I know that when this guy wears that uniform and puts on his enormous bag this time next year that I wont have those same regrets, that guilt from not making the most of every moment.
I’m sure that when that moment comes I’ll be that mother bawling being guided out of the gates with a big box of kleenex as the Baby bounces into class. Then I’ll go grocery shopping in silence, childless, and remind the other mums I see with their climbers and fighters to soak up every second because before they know it they’ll blink and those little people will be at school.