As I picked up my youngest for the 7,456,788th time the other day (I kid you not), I had a thought.
One day it will be the last time I pick her up.
I don’t know when that day will come. It’s certainly not just around the corner.
But eventually we will be at a stage where she doesn’t reach her little hands up towards me while wriggling her fingers desperately to get my attention.
Soon she won’t even want to sit on my lap when we are reading.
I’m sure she’ll still hug me when she’s 18 (at least I hope so!), but eventually, one day in the future, she won’t be my baby any more.
My youngest is already 18 months old and yet I feel like there are still firsts coming thick and fast.
There was the first tooth, the first steps, the first word, the first time she climbed up something (much to my horror).
I’m so busy counting off the first times that I think I forget about the last times.
We’ve already had the last breastfeed, which I must admit was harder than I thought it was going to be. That was at seven months.
Of course there are some lasts that we can’t wait to see the back of.
I doubt we’ve seen the last all-nighter – there’s a lot of childhood illnesses to be had after all.
But I think I’ve seen the last time she slept all night in my arms – I doubt the little fidget would be comfy staying there for 10 to 12 hours.
Even the difficult things such as this, which I fretted over so much because I was oh so tired, are difficult to say goodbye to when you realise they will never happen again.
One day will be the last time my eldest tells me everything on her mind. Right now she is an open book to me, but soon she will want to keep certain emotions, events and plans private.
There will be the last bedtime story – because one day they will want to read to themselves.
There will be a last bath – because they will favour the shower when rushing to go out and meet their friends.
There will be the last time I help them put on their shoes.
There will be the last time I change a nappy. This one might seem a crazy thing to miss – but I’ve always loved having a giggle with my two when they’re on the changing mat. It’s a perfect opportunity to make them laugh.
As I got to thinking about all of these lasts that will one day hit me, I also thought about the numbers.
I may have my kids for life – and they have me – but when they are adults they won’t want to spend every single Christmas, birthday and summer holiday with us.
They will have friends, and significant others they will want to spend time with.
When you think about the actual figures you realise:
You only get 18 Christmases, summers and birthdays guaranteed with your kids. After that they’re a free agent. You hope they’ll be back every year, but they will also have their own lives to live. And they won’t be your little baby any more.
The thought of time slipping away sends me into a bit of a panic when I step back and look at how quickly time actually flies by. It only seems like yesterday that I myself was leaving school. That was over 15 years ago now!
So with this in mind, and to keep away the panic attack that threatens, I say to you fellow mamas:
When you are in the middle of your third night feed and you’re desperately wondering when you’ll be able to get some kip, pause to kiss your baby’s head. One day they will not fit so snugly into your arms.
When your kids are sloshing water out of the bath and you see yet more clearing up for you to do, encourage them to blow bubbles and take pictures of them having fun. These simple, every day moments will be the ones you miss the most.
When your toddler ignores your request to get their shoes for the 13th time, remember that things won’t always be this frustrating but you will miss the way they look at you now one day.
When your baby fills their nappy for the third time in an hour, blow a raspberry on their tummy and remember they won’t always need you so much.
There won’t always be night feeds, dirty nappies, answering back, tantrums and piles of washing. And your baby won’t always be a baby.
Let’s try to wish less time away, and enjoy what we have right here and now, whenever we can.