Who are these enormous children? And when did they eat my tiny, sweet, Playdoh-scented toddlers?
Once upon a few years ago, I comforted myself with the thought that this was just the nappies-and-dummies time of my life. That it would pass soon enough, and I’d be grateful when it did.
And it has passed. But I’m not sure if I’m grateful that it has. It’s easier– how can it not be, when they are so much more independent? When my kidlets can now dress themselves, feed themselves? When I have more free time than I ever did before?
One is at school, the other at kindy. There are six full hours, four days a week, to spend my time as I see fit. I am no longer woken every day with the question of “What are we doing today, Mumma?”. I no longer plot and plan things to fill what felt like an endless amount of time- day care, playgroup, swimming lessons, playdates and trips to the library. Most days now, the answer is the same (“School”) and the onus for entertainment is no longer completely mine.
But there’s a grief that comes with that, too. A funny vapour of emptiness in the shape of PlaySchool and sippy cups, comfort toys and day naps.
Older children are easier. But the experience is somehow not as sweet.
I’m not even sure exactly when it happened. One day not too long ago, I still felt mired in the responsibility of doing everything for them. Then, suddenly, I looked at them– properly looked at them– and realised they had grown up insurmountably while I was not paying close enough attention.
Some days I am inexplicably, irrationally angry that the first part of their growing up is over. I feel as though I’ve been cheated out of it by life, by the actions of their father. That I struggled so hard to enjoy raising very little children, when it should have been that much easier. That I missed so much of it, because I was disconnected for so long.
I ache for them as babies. I hope I did okay, in spite of what happened. That they didn’t miss out on too much. And that if they did, they won’t realise it. That it won’t affect them adversely for the rest of their lives.
My big kids, so happy to be big kids. It’s so bittersweet, watching them grow.