As her girls grow from babyhood to childhood, Maria Rushe looks at the nostalgia and wonder that mothers feel about their babies getting older.
I’m brushing my youngest’s hair and we’re chittering away.
‘You’re my beautiful Baby girl’ I say as I kiss the top of her inexplicably fuzzy head when I’m done.
‘I am not a Baby Mammy. I am FOUR.’ she replies.
‘Yes I know, you’re a big girl…but you’re still my wee baby.’
‘You don’t got no babies no more Mammy…’
Smash…There we go.
She’s right of course.
There are no more babies in my house. All evidence of babies has been reduced to smudge marks on walls and a few baby toys which managed to evade my pre-Santa clear out.
My girls are now “big girls” and I no longer have babies apparently.
At 4 and almost 8, they’re my Little Women.
And while this makes me sad, it makes me happy at the same time.
I love the age that they’re at now. Still so dependent on us, but fully capable of doing things like getting a drink for themselves and getting dressed themselves… (Well. Sometimes!)
I love that when they waken on a Sunday morning, they can play together in the bedroom for an hour before coming near us.
I love that the pram is gone… (literally, it’s in Dublin!) and that there is no longer a need to bring half the house with me when I leave it.
I love the craic we can now have with them; enjoying their company and genuinely having fun as they unleash their personalities onto the world.
And while every age poses its own challenges…(stubborn 4 and emotional almost 8 anyone?), I have to say that this stage of our little family, is enjoyable.
Do I miss them as Babies?
Of course I do.
I look back at photographs and videos of them as newborns and wobblers and toddlers and my heart stops and starts at the same time. It swells with nostalgia and love and pride.
But it also sighs with relief, because while I loved much of the Early Years, there was much about it that I wouldn’t go back to for all the tea in China.
I would have no urge to go back to the blur of the first few months. (I’m not in the slightest bit broody either before anyone gets excited and throws THAT particular tuppence in.)
I don’t miss very much about the baby phase, except for THEM. My baby children.
Their faces, their hugs, their smells… of course I miss the little voices and first words and mispronounced phrases and funny waddles and baby giggles.
But I enjoyed them while they lasted and now, I’m enjoying the hilarious questions, and little notes on our pillow at night and listening to them play together and random conversations with two little ladies who are trying to make sense of the world.
The pudgy, sticky little arms that used to go around my neck, are now simply longer. (Still sticky sometimes!)
The beautiful blue eyes which used to stare up at me with utter trust and love, stare now with suspicion and curiosity and sometimes with annoyance, but still with trust and love.
Always with trust and love.
Rather than pushing them in front of me, I now walk beside them.
Sometimes behind them as they run ahead, exploring the world.
And I am loving every second of it and savouring every second, because this too shall pass and soon, there’ll be a new phase of my Little Women with new challenges and new fun.
They can run ahead all they like. They can get as tall and big and independent as they like.
I’ll always be right behind them, or beside them, or wherever they need me to be.
So while my Princess was correct, she was also wrong.
Because even when they’re all grown up, they’ll still be my babies.