My firstborn started school in September.
I am now a proper grown-up parent with a schoolchild. I have to get everyone up, dressed and somewhere on time, in clean uncreased clothes, every morning. There will soon be homework, phonics, forms and parents evenings.
I have to kiss my four-year-old daughter goodbye FIVE days a week, and send her off to face new challenges and situations, without me.
I have also had to start ironing!*
I don’t feel ready for any of this.
I am going to have to kiss my four-year-old daughter goodbye FIVE days a week, and send her off to face new challenges and situations, without me.
I don’t feel ready.
I need more time. I wish I could to press pause and enjoy her just the way she is for a little bit longer. I am not ready to let her go.
I should be happy about this milestone. Excited about watching my offspring develop and learn, but I can’t help feeling a huge sense of loss.
I find myself crying as I flick through old pictures of her on my phone – like I’m grieving for the baby and toddler she once was.
I feel guilty for this sadness. I know there are people in this world who would be grateful for the chance to wave a happy, healthy daughter off to school. I know how lucky I am, yet still the tears flow as I recall moments passed.
It was tough. I can’t pretend it wasn’t. But in between the stress and the sleep deprivation there was beauty. Moments of joy that passed all too soon.
I wish I could go back and enjoy them one more time. Experience them all as the mother I am now. The mother who is all too aware, that once those times are gone, you yearn to experience them all over again. The mother who realises that, three years of waking up in the night is actually no time at all.
I long to feel those moments one more time.
Feeding my newborn daughter in the dead of night. Exhausted and overwhelmed. Crying for respite; praying for her to sleep so I could go to bed. Tears flowing into my breast milk.
I wish I could go back and enjoy the warmth of her at my breast one more time. To when she needed me so entirely and when I, alone, was her nourishment, her comfort, her world.
Lying beneath my sleeping daughter. Wishing she would sleep in her cot rather than on me. Putting her down, picking her up, putting her down, picking her up. Must do it right. Drowsy but awake. Feeling frustrated.
I wish I could go back and feel her sleeping on my chest one last time. To stroke her head, listen to her soft breathing and feel her heart beating in time with my own.
I wish I could go back and laugh with her in the darkness one more time. Enjoy one more all-night pyjama party with my firstborn.
Nursing my one-year-old at bedtime. Down to just one feed now. She suckles until she falls asleep. It feels like forever.
I wish I could go back and have that moment once again. That last feed. I always assumed there’d be one more. I can’t even remember the last time. The truth is I was probably on my mobile as she fed. Facebook, Instagram, stories, lists, news… there, but not there. Assuming there’d be other times.
My young toddler is tired but will not nap. Hour after hour is spent trying to get her to sleep. I know she is tired. Cuddling, rocking singing. I have Stuff to do. The house is a mess. There is so much washing. She is grabbing my leg, wanting to play, wanting a cuddle. I need to tidy up. I need to do the washing. ‘In a minute,” I tell her. “In a minute.”
I wish I could go back for one more day and leave all the chores. Pick her up, read another story, play another game. Forget the nap. Believe that the Stuff does not matter. Because it really doesn’t.
My daughter will not go to bed. One more story, one more song, one more drink. One more cuddle. “Will you lie down with me mummy?” When will she fall asleep alone? When will bedtime not take hours? I need a break. I am impatient for some time alone, to gather my thoughts, to enjoy a glass of wine. I rush the songs. I rush the cuddles.
I wish I could go back for one night and lie down with her for longer. To enjoy cuddling her to sleep and making her feel safe again.
“Will you lie down with me, mummy?”
Yesterday evening I sat down to watch the television. I was tired. It was the last day of the summer holiday. My four-year-old, now confident and secure enough to sleep alone, rarely needs me at night these days, but she called out to me.
“Will you lie down with me, mummy?” I snuggled up next to her and sang her a lullaby. She fell asleep with her hand in mine and I whispered in her ear.
“Goodnight, my little sleep thief. Thank you for all the long nights, relentless wakings and twilight cuddles. Thank you for giving me so many moments to cherish.”
*When I say I have to ‘do the ironing’ I mean, I might have to put clothes in a basket for my husband to iron, but still, who has time for that?
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