There’s no denying that life with two young children is hard. As they get older I’m sure there will be new challenges, new daily battles, new things to worry and feel guilty for. But this phase right now must surely be the most relentless. This is the phase when my baby wakes like clockwork every time my head hits the pillow, wanting a feed. This is the phase when my toddler is trying to figure out the world, she wants to push boundaries, try new things, and there are a lot of lessons for us all to learn along the way. Life as a mum of two under three is not easy, it can be gruelling, exhausting, emotional and unforgiving. Nobody with young children could be blamed for occasionally longing for days years from now, when the kids are off at school, or away for the night at their friends houses, or even with their grandparents while mum and dad finally get a week away. To themselves.
But as I sit here cuddling my baby, who has woken for the fourth time in four hours, I promise myself that I won’t wish it away. The days really are long but the years are painfully short. I can remember planning my daughter’s first birthday party like it was yesterday and yet in four months time she will turn three. And I have no idea where that time has gone. I look at her now and I realise that it is a stretch to even be calling her a toddler anymore, she is a little girl. The baby face has gone and instead she has a pair of lanky legs, a full set of teeth and enough willpower to change the world.
Looking at my son who is only six months old, I can already see it happening before me. He is learning to do new things all the time, he’s not even crawling yet but I know I’ll blink and the pair of them will be running around after each other. Laughing and talking and sharing inside jokes that their Dad and I aren’t invited to be a part of.
And those future days look so, so beautiful and I know I will love them. But I also love these days. And I know I will miss them terribly when they are over. So I won’t wish them away.
I won’t wish away the 2am, 3am, 4am cuddles. Eventually giving up on sleep at 4.30am and declaring it daytime so I can make my first tea of the day. Bringing my baby boy down the stairs, lying him on his play mat and having the most precious quality time. The rest of the world is asleep, it’s just us and he chats to me with his funny made up language because he knows this time is ours.
I won’t wish away these years when my toddler is learning to talk. Her mistaken words and mispronunciation provide me with constant entertainment and I fail to understand how she can make any word sound so ridiculous cute. These first conversations that we share are some of my most precious moments throughout the day, when she asks me what my favourite colour is or ‘what do dinosaurs eat mummy?’
I won’t wish away the tears and the tantrums, the kisses on bumped heads or the chocolatey grins of a girl who has been left unattended with the ‘treat hamper’. I don’t want to speed through this phase of our lives when quality time as a couple is hard to come by, but those moments when we look at each other as if to say ‘look at this, we made this’ are endless.
I won’t wish away the excitement of a trip to the park or the belief that when we go on an airplane she will get to drive it herself. The joy of a baby boy who has just had his first taste of orange or who is at his happiest when splashing in the bath.
I won’t wish away these days when we are their world and we can cure all problems with a chocolate coin or a cuddle. The days of little hands rummaging through make up bags, little legs running to keep up and little faces beaming up at mine.
These are the days of babies on hips, never having enough hands and tripping over toddlers. These are the days of rejected healthy meals, thrown in the bin when only an hour earlier it was lovingly prepared from scratch. These are the days of endless washing and clothes that go from being rolled up twice to too short on the ankle in the blink of an eye. These are the days of little sleep, little time and little people.
There will be days for ‘adult time’ again, there will be time to sleep, there will be a house that stays clean for more than five seconds. There will be cups of coffee that we can drink hot and cakes that we can eat without little hands helping themselves. Those days will come again, and we’ll look back and reminisce over how things are now.
These days can be hard, but they are golden too, and I won’t wish them away.