These days I am getting a keen sense of how fast time is passing. It’s like I blinked and I had two children. I feel it even more now that I am expecting number 3. I can’t quite comprehend how 5 years, 2 children and expecting a third happened.
Wasn’t it just yesterday that I found out I was expecting my first child? I remember the day that I found out so clearly. I remember calling my husband and telling him over the phone, right in the middle of his work day, because I have absolutely no patience and can’t keep anything from him for any amount of time.
I remember the day she was born, that incomparable feeling of having her placed on my chest where she immediately ceased crying, whereupon my own tears gushed even more. I remember how it felt to have her tiny frame pressed against me, and me completely overwhelmed by how much she needed me.
I remember the days that followed. The utter physical exhaustion, the stress and anxiety of trying to keep her alive, of the insane lack of sleep…
But what I fail to remember is how we filled the days from around 2 months to, well, now. Did I at any point just soak in the moments and enjoy having just one little girl to love, nurture and cherish? Or was I constantly worried about the next issue, about her future, about how she was growing, about her poor eating habits, her manners and so on?
Then before I knew it, Z was born and again, I remember the day she was born so clearly, I remember the unique struggles that she brought immediately after (she was colicky, she never slept during the day, she never wanted to be put down etc etc.), and again, I remember the stress, the worry and the anxiety.
How did FIVE years pass with these two little girls? How did I spend the days with them? Did I pause to simply watch them in wonderment or was I constantly “feeling tired”?
Two months out from having baby number 3, I get the growing sense of nostalgia, of regret… The regret of not simply sitting back and enjoying the two girls in their baby phase. Before my very eyes they are growing so quickly and I just want to stop and pause everything.
We spend so much of our children’s early years wishing that they would just grow up so we can get some solid sleep, or so we can work, or read a book, or have time for ourselves, that before we know it, they are grown up, then we futilely wish they could just be babies again so we can cuddle them without them pushing us away. So we can stare in wonderment at their incomprehensibly tiny feet and hands, so we can breathe in their pure, uncorrupted newborn smell. So we can dress them in anything we want to dress them in, pick them up and take them anywhere without them protesting…
Z (my youngest) began to assert her wardrobe preferences a few weeks ago, and it’s only getting worse. She insists on wearing dresses, if they get stained they must be taken off and changed immediately (something I apparently did as a two year old, so I only have myself to blame), and she does not wear jackets or tops. She must also pick her own shoes.
And YES, it is driving me absolutely MAD. Today after another torturous tantrum session over her clothing, it hit me that it also made me sad (you know, not just frustrated and crazy). It made me sad because it was a sign of her growing and maturing. That she was no longer a baby who had no consciousness of these things. That she was developing a personality and asserting her choices. Before she even turns 2.
God help me.
And I know that when baby no. 3 arrives, she will seem huge to me, and she will suddenly grow up and mature overnight.
She won’t be the baby of the family anymore. And no, I can’t hold onto this, or cherish it properly, and before I know it, it will be a distant memory, to the extent where I will say, “I don’t even remember the time when Z was the baby of the family.”
Ultimately, expecting baby no 3 is making me realise in real terms how important it is to appreciate our children, as they are, in this very moment. Because childhood is so fleeting and trying to hold onto it is like trying to grasp sand in our fists. Yes. I am referring to the old cliche of time as being like sand. Shoot me.
So, if you have children, no matter what age they are, just take this moment to watch them, to talk with them, to wonder at their current phase, their likes and dislikes, their unique temperaments and quirky habits, at their torturous tantrums, at their bad habits… I’m trying to hold onto the time when J would stop us whilst out on a walk, and lie down on the grass by a path and point at the sky and say, “moon”. Or the time when Z saw a dandelion and picked it, and in her attempt to blow it she ended up shoving it in her mouth. Or when J nonchalantly asked me about how my day was going, and I rattled on about how tired I was, and how much I still needed to do, and in a matter-of-fact manner she advised, “Allah (swt) will help you…” Or the million and one other times that these children are awed by the world around them and force you to notice as well, or when they keenly pick up on your mood and are so gentle and caring with you…
Pull them closer and breathe them in, and know that this moment is going to pass so quickly, one day it will feel like a distant dream. Take a moment to push your tiredness aside, forget the stress and anxiety you are experiencing with your children, don’t think about what needs to be cleaned or cooked or bought… Just watch your children, watch them and acknowledge the depth of love you have for them simply for the way that they are now…