It has hit me pretty hard recently just how grown up my kids are getting. I think it happened after AJ turned 6. Within a few weeks, something changed. I no longer had “little ones.” They just aren’t that little any longer. Certainly not babies.
It got me thinking about those early years and how hard they are and also how important. I don’t think I’d be able to sit back and enjoy this new stage as much as I am if I hadn’t put in so much energy and effort into those earlier years (not that it ever really stops).
And then there’s that old adage. “Enjoy every minute.” I don’t think I could have enjoyed it more than I did. Even through the meltdowns and the sleepless nights, through the depression and anxiety, I soaked up every drop of it. I didn’t want to miss a thing, and also not forget a thing.
I knew from day one that I wouldn’t want to lose a moment. I kept photos, took videos, wrote diaries and lists (so many lists). And sometimes if I close my eyes and focus really hard, I can still smell the smells, and even feel the newness and the cluelessness and the confusion, frustration, complexity, but also the perfection, and that feeling of life happening around you, change taking over whether you like it or not, and it is beautiful.
But I miss the smallness (not to mention the lack of attitude). No matter what, the smallness doesn’t come back. And for a long time I wasn’t sure if that meant that perhaps we were meant to be a family of five instead of a family of four. But I wasn’t convinced and I realised soon enough that it wasn’t another baby I wanted. I just wanted to revisit the children I already have as babies. I want to be able to go back, just for a few minutes and be knee-deep in it all again.
As I watch them, long limbs everywhere, dressed in clothes that are suddenly sizes that seemed light years away until short years ago, opinions not at all kept to themselves, making jokes that (sometimes) are actually funny, I sometimes still wonder how on earth we got here.
I have watched little heads pop around toilet doors at different heights (let’s not even pretend every mother doesn’t know what I’m talking about). It is a perspective that never changes, so it is easy to spot when their heads are suddenly higher than the doorknob.
But despite missing the smallness, I love this stage too. I love the conversations, the observations, the wit, even the opinions and (sometimes) the jokes. I love the beautiful, responsible, insightful little people they are growing into. And I still get my cuddles, even if it involves bones poking into awkward places and ends in a request for yet more food. Always more food.