That growing up from baby to toddler, from toddler to child is so quick. I know A is only two and a half and that she still waddles along on sturdy legs, has a cute toddler voice and still pulls the funny “ooh ooh” face when running after a ball which she’s done since nine months old. But she’s getting so big, gaining an independence and finding her own voice. But we’re lucky that we get to watch them grow up and learn.
Today, A sang the entire Rainbow Dash song I’m Awesome from My Little Pony – practically word perfect. When the hell did she learn all the words, remember the tones and notes of the sang AND choreograph an entire dance routine to it?
Her sentences are stronger, her temperant is more determined and boy can she tell you what she wants and when she wants it! (Usually ice pops or ice cream and NOW!)
There’s a strange hollow ache when you see how suddenly they’ve changed or discovered something new. A void. Babies and toddlers literally sprout up overnight, as though they were stretched from every corner of the bed while sleeping. Those glasses you put on the counter top safely away from little hands can now be reached, doors can be opened and now need to be locked and the light switches can be turned on and off at their whim.
Our little A spouts sentences with words and inflections that surprise and astonish us. Her imagination has grown and at times she doesn’t need momma or papa bear to play with her and wants only her teddy bears or dolls to sit down and have a picnic with her.
We weren’t prepared for a lot of what parenting offers – joy, excitement, fear, anquish, stress and happiness. I’ve talked before about what great intentions I had great intentions for when I became a mother but nothing prepares you for the emotional side of it all. The feelings that conjure up in you from the moment you hold your baby. The pride and happiness when they learn to roll over. The sadness when you realise those firsts have been and gone.
It’s this feeling that kills me and B. And believe me, watching A change from a small 6lb5 baby to a 2 stone toddler is incredible. There are weeks when you don’t see the change and it’s gradual. There are days when you can’t miss it and it’s an instant “wow, how did this happen” moment. They literally grow up right in front of your eyes.
They say the baby and toddler years go fast and they’re not wrong. It’s not always that easy to see the end of sleepless nights, winding, spit up, the crying and the stress of babies. But it disappears almost as quickly as it happens. Don’t get me wrong, toddlers are hilarious and fun but we know that this stage will move on too and we’ll be sorting out schools and play dates and then we’ll be on to the next stage as quickly again.
Despite the tiredness, the fear of babies, the stress of first time parenthood, I think B and I would gladly go back to the early weeks and months to feel the baby soft skin and witness the first giggles and goo goo ga ga’s. Just for a little while.
Our sadness and heartache comes from the fact that parenting, while hard and sometimes difficult to adjust to, happens quickly. Those years when they are flawlessly small and perfectly dependent on you are rapid. We’re missing that already and A is still so tiny and young and in need of us. But we can see the change already and we know that these years will disappear and the innocence and dependency will reduce. We’ll move on to new terrain and parenthood will challenge us with a set of rules and new ways to support our children.
I started a memory book for A as soon as I got pregnant. Tiredness took over and I stopped writing in the book when A was 10 weeks old (ironically she started sleeping much better at this stage). I’ve spent my evening looking through it and remembering the special moments of her early days. Our daughter has taught me a lot in life but most of all she’s taught me to slow down and live in the moment. To remember and never forget the small details. To cherish those moments because the baby and toddler years go by so quickly.
This book is so important to me. Writing about A and our lives as parents on Over Heaven’s Hill has made me remember so much about her, about us as a family. There are many more pages to fill and A has given me a million memories to record for her when she’s older. I’m glad I have this book to complete so I can happily remember the little fingers and toes, the giggles, the daddadadadada.