Everyone seems to have differing views as to when a baby becomes a toddler. Some seem to class their baby days as being over as soon as that first year is done, others when a child actually starts toddling or perhaps when they turn two. For me, it’s the absence of certain things. At two, Lady Mck was still feeding and in nappies and in a cot. I still kept the pushchair in the boot. In my mind I still thought of her as the baby.
Six months later it has become clear to me that we are no longer a household with a baby. She stopped feeding three months ago and a month later was out of nappies. I found an old bib in a bag the other day and went to put it in the wash and it suddenly occurred to me that she hasn’t worn a bib for months and so I binned it, with a whimsical sigh.
I felt the lasts from the moment she was born. I can remember, as my uterus painfully shrunk back to it’s ‘no baby’ size that I would never experience childbirth again, that I would never have that feeling of a person moving inside of me. An odd and unusual feeling and something that is hard to remember after the fact.
It’s a little bittersweet, but mostly I find the prospect of no more babies is something I feel fine about. As I edited thousands of old photos a few weeks ago, I found myself wondering where the time has gone and yearning to hold them all as tiny babies, once more. I find it so hard to hold on to this stuff in my memory. I guess that early time goes so fast, because we are gripped in a rollercoaster of love and transition, hormones and tiredness. It takes on a dreamlike state as I look back. I have become that woman who overly coos at random newborns and their parents and I really must get a a grip on that.
However, mostly, I find that I am loving this new stage of our family. By the time the boys were the age that Lady Mck is now, they had a younger sibling, or one was imminent. I have never had an older toddler at home by themselves and it is a real treat. We no longer have to think about pushchairs and changing facilities and the lack of the buggy in my car means we can actually fit the shopping in now! Lady Mck is able to play and learn and she is soaking up life. During school hours I don’t feel I am corralling a herd of children, it’s just she and I. When we wait for Nano to finish his drama class, she will happily do a sticker book, or play with a quiet, small toy. Stacking, threading, sorting, drawing and sticking can all amuse her for longer now. I am just holding out for the colouring stage and hoping she gets the bug, like her eldest brother did.
Despite, the odd yearning for a tiny new life, I know in my head and in my heart that we are done. Three is enough. In fact, I’ll be honest and say that three is hard, much harder than I imagined, but it is the right number for us. A few weeks ago, Nano was asking for more babies and Mckdad cruelly played along. My reaction to the idea of a fourth was telling and enfatic. It was a big NO from me.
And so, when those yearning come, I know that they are really just yearnings for time to slow down a bit, they are not real. What is happening now is what is real.