Today, as this post goes live on my blog, I’ll be sat watching Mr D open his gifts and bounce around excitedly as he sees that his wishes of a fire station, people with hats to go in the station and a book with maps were honoured.
Today he turns four.
Of course, it’s the words every parent utters, but it is true. Time really does fly. He is a bundle of energy, whizzing around from room to room, place to place soaking up life. I’ve said it before but he really does absorb the world around him. Over the past couple of months both Damian and I have noticed a huge physical change in him. He is all limbs – gone are the chubby arms and legs of toddlerhood and instead he is all long lean limbs that love nothing more than running, climbing, swinging and exploring.
Gone is that tiny baby, that tiny, tiny baby we could hold in one hand. The tiny 5lb 5ounce baby who caused us sleepless nights, colic filled afternoons of tears and worries over why he wasn’t rolling over yet or showing any interest in eating. That tiny baby I spent hours snoozing with or walking with and singing to.
Birthdays are inevitably a time to reflect. A time to remember the baby that was and the boy that he has become. It’s a time to reflect on the little person we are helping to mould. It’s a time to reflect on our own parenting, and as ever wonder if we have made the right choices.
I think whatever the decision; to stay at home or return to work, childminder or nursery, nursery or pre-school, there’s always a worry about ‘what if’ and there are any number of reports to evidence the benefits or otherwise of the effects of mothers that work and mothers that stay at home. What if we had enrolled him at pre-school? What if I had returned to work? How would our life be different and how would the children be different? Everyone does, I am sure, have these ‘wobbles’ from time to time but I think I am always pretty confident in our choices and feel sure that we have made the right choices for us. There aren’t many things I’d change in our life right now.
As I listened to him make his plans for his party, all carefully thought out in his mind I am so proud of the considered and caring boy he has become. I love the thought process he put in place to explain the things he wanted to do. As I put him to bed and took that final picture as a three year old he asked me, at least four times, if tomorrow really was his birthday. His face when he realised that yes, it REALLY is was lovely to see. We have cautioned against expecting all the things he has asked for being there in the morning – there are certainly things he has asked for that we haven’t bought him. But I know that when he comes in to our room in the morning he will quietly ask if it really is his birthday and when he knows that it REALLY REALLY is, he will be so, so excited.
Motherhood, four years on, has taught me a lot. It’s taught me huge amounts about how we, as humans, develop and it’s given me a renewed interest in politics (although I am often found immensely frustrated at the un-family friendly policies that are continuously created). It’s taught me that I can be pretty creative when given some wrapping paper and paper bags. It’s taught me that there is a huge amount of stuff going on in my local community; be it model railway shows, scarecrow festivals or simply beautiful places to walk. It’s made me realise that I can function pretty well on limited sleep, early starts and non stop work.
Being a mother has made me get up and get out on those days when, really, I don’t want to. It’s made me less selfish and made me realise that my house isn’t going to be tidy until the children all move out! and that the washing pile really is endless and don’t even get me started on the ironing. It’s made me take contentment in the small things – be it seeing the delight that a cardboard box can bring or listening to the shouts of ‘is anybody poorly – I want to be a Doctor’.
It’s made me realise that really, children don’t need much. They want time and the space to be children. The time and space to explore their world and make sense of it. It’s made me realise that I am happy with the choices we have made. Our approach as a family to early learning seems to be paying off as he shows an ever increasing understanding about the world around him as well as being able to explain and recount information we have taught him. I am pleased that we have, so far at least, managed to keep his love of books alive and can’t wait to sit with him tomorrow to explore the many books that I know he will unwrap tomorrow.
Motherhood has taught me that I am doing the job I really want to do. And I wouldn’t change it for a thing.