It was Toddler Boy I’s second birthday a few days ago. This means I am now the mother of a two year old, a four and a half year old, and a six and a quarter year old.
As Toddler is our third and final child, this means my baby days are truly over.
And I’m finding it hard.
I’m an emotional person at the best of times. I’m the kind of mum who cries at a pair of new school shoes, or at their child’s school play. But I’ve found Toddler’s second birthday a particularly overwhelming milestone, and now that the celebrations are over, it’s hit me more than I ever thought it would.
When Little Miss E, my eldest child, turned two, Little Man O, was three months old. When Little Man turned two, I was about four months pregnant with Toddler. But now Toddler is two, there’s no newborn, no baby bump, no hoping to be pregnant. That’s it. Baby days: done and dusted.
And I miss those baby days.
I miss feeling my growing baby wriggling around in my tummy. I miss thinking of baby names. I miss pregnancy yoga. I miss tiny newborn cuddles when your baby lies on your chest for hours. I miss breastfeeding. I miss friends popping round for newborn cuddles. I miss adorably cute tiny baby clothes. I miss Moses baskets and baby blankets. I miss care-free days that aren’t dictated by school and pre-school drop offs. I miss gummy baby smiles and infectious baby laughs. I miss tiny baby feet. I miss the way they sleep with their arms up around their heads. Yes, some baby days are incredibly hard… but I miss it.
I feel incredibly lucky to have three precious children. I’ve spoken a lot on my blog about how my very first pregnancy ended in a devastating miscarriage and the resulting fear that I would never be a mum. Every day I look at my children and I know how blessed we are.
I feel lucky that the decision to not have any more babies was one made by me and Cardiff Daddy – and not something nature cruelly decided for me against my wishes.
I feel lucky that my children are growing healthily and happily and taking the natural next steps in their lives. For many children, that’s not always the case.
I always said I wanted three children close together. It’s been an amazing seven years of pregnancies, babies and toddlers. Yes, it’s been full on, with three children born in just over four years. But I’ve loved it.
But now, barring any happy accidents, that’s it for me.
And it all seems so…. final.
I have friends who are relieved their baby days are over. One mum friend who has three children of similar ages to mine says it’s a relief to be out of the baby stage and into proper childhood. “I couldn’t go back now,” she says. “Not a chance.”
Other friends tell me they no longer feel broody. They’ll enjoy a cwtch with someone else’s newborn, but are quite happy to hand that baby back without the same pangs of longing for a newborn of their own that I get.
I understand when they say they love being able to leave the house without a buggy, change bag and other paraphernalia in hand. I understand when they say they love the freedom of not being bound by baby naps and feeding times, and that their social life as a family is improving now that their kids can stay up later. I understand when they say they are happy to have their bodies back, to be able to wear what they want to wear without having to worry about it being pregnancy or breastfeeding-friendly. I’ve written about that myself. I really get it.
But, for me, there’s something so special about the baby days. When your baby is so new and adorable and cute and cuddly and when they rely on you for everything.
My children are slowly making their own way in the world, meaning I am starting to see less of them. Miss E is in full-time school and half way through year one. Little Man is enjoying his afternoons at pre-school and two mornings a week at cylch meithrin (Welsh playgroup) and will be off to reception in September. Toddler will soon start at cylch himself. I know he’s ready for it. But I’m not.
I have friends who laugh at me for being so emotional… but some days I miss my children so much it hurts. I am determined not to be the mum with the overly long apron strings who can’t let her children go… but that doesn’t mean I don’t find it difficult.
My Facebook time hop seems to be adding to my torment, throwing cute pictures of my children as babies into my timeline on a daily basis. This week has been filled with baby photos of a tiny Toddler as we welcomed him into our family two years ago. Miss E and Little Man look so young, back in the days when I had three pre-school children and me and my little gang would hang out at various toddler groups and classes, soft plays and parks. It was such a special time.
Maybe I’m just one of those people who’ll always be broody. Maybe I’m overly-emotional. In fact, I know I’m overly-emotional.
But I also know I’m not the only one to feel this way. I have friends who tell me they feel the same; that as happy as they are to see their children growing up and as much as they are enjoying each exciting new stage, they miss the baby days too. Women I know whose children are all grown up tell me wistfully to enjoy every moment because before you know it, you’ll be an empty-nester whose kids live on the other side of town. Or the world.
I know lots of you reading this will feel the same because when I wrote about how sorting out our old baby gear was making me cry, I was overwhelmed with comments from parents feeling the same about the passing of time.
I don’t think there’s any real answer. I’m trying not to get too attached to living in the past. As a yoga teacher, I’m constantly telling people about the importance of being in the present moment. And that’s what I’m trying my best to do as my children discover more and more about themselves and the world around them. I’m sure there are many more amazing moments yet to come with my children. It’ll just be a long, long time before babies feature in them again.
Can you relate? Do you miss the baby days or do you find it easier now that your children are older? I’d love to know what you think. Do let me know in the comments section below, by tweeting me on @cardiffmummy or on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page.
For all my posts on my experiences of parenting, see the Family Life section of Cardiff Mummy Says.