Seven years ago life changed forever when I held my first baby in my arms. I remember touching the top of her head as she was crowning thinking “this is it, no going back. This is permanent. I hope I’m ready.” Then your Dad shouted at me to get on with it – he was keen to meet her.
And changed we were. Having a baby was like somebody dropping a bomb into our lives. We couldn’t believe how much carnage this small beautiful thing could create, but we also couldn’t believe just how much love we felt for her too. I would sometimes just lie on the floor next to her cot watching her sleep, basking in the glow of motherly love.
And that baby was you Rachel.
Then you grew into a lunatic of a toddler with mad ginger curls that just seemed to grow up and up and up. They literally bounced as you walked. As you were talking before you could walk the conversations that we were having by the age of 2 were hilariously funny. I loved you more. I doubted if I could have another child as I didn’t think it would be possible to love them as much as I love you.
But we had another child and the mini version of you was born 4 years ago. Turns out we did have enough love for 2 children after all. Abbie was the perfect baby, as if she’d come straight from the pages of a text-book. Then at 1 she showed us who she really was – a mischievous cheeky little loveable sausage. We love you too Abbie, more than you’ll know until you have children of your own.
Having babies was the making of me. Turns out I’m a whizz with early years kids. I wish I’d discovered this earlier. I am literally having the time of my life. I now run my own business working with early years kids which is really starting to shape up and you two are my pride and joy. You are my inspiration. I could literally live in a hole as long as you’re there.
And yet it’s going to end, and now that end is suddenly in sight. Abbie starts school in September this year. At that point I’ll no longer be a mum of a pre-schooler. I’m a school mum. The next step along the ladder of life. And quite frankly I’m not up for it. I don’t want to say goodbye to the baby years. I don’t want to accept that it’s over. It’s been the best time of my life to date. Get ready for a 6 month tantrum from your mother because I’m being dragged out of this life stage kicking and screaming.
I may of course love the next bit. It might be better. But with every passing day you’re getting harder and harder to cuddle. I can barely lift Rachel! Soon you won’t want to be lifted up and hugged at all.
So forgive me kids if I take every opportunity that I can to kiss and cuddle you whilst I’m still taller than you. Forgive me if I get a little weepy every time we have to give away a favourite item of clothing because you’ve outgrown it. Understand that whilst I want you to grow up to have the freedom to make your own choices I’m struggling with the concept of you growing up at all.
I’m sorry that I sometimes shout and get cross. I try not to and I’m going to keep trying not to. I’m sure that in years to come, when you put your shoes on straight away without me have to ask 30 times (and then pretend to leave you behind) I’ll look back to these days fondly and laugh at how persistently you refused to put the damn things on. I hope I will anyway.
I’m trying to be perfect but I won’t get there. Nobody does. I hope you can bear with me whilst you both get ready to start new schools in September. I’m so proud of you both, and right now I’m particularly proud of the fact that you both seem to be handling it a lot better than I am!
Lot’s of love
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SARAH CANTRILL is a woman on a mission to inspire every young child to become a reader for pleasure. She is the Artistic Director & Founder of STORY STORKS, a social enterprise that delivers interactive story workshops to early years children and their grown ups, that help kids to fall in love with stories and develop their early language skills meaning that they have an easier time of learning to read when the time is right. Infact 85% of the kids who come through STORY STORKS are right where they should be or ahead in terms of progression through the reading book scheme once they get to school and the ones who are behind are trying hard because they know that it’s worth it – that to read is to unlock a whole world of fun and adventure and learning and imagination and they might take a bit longer to get there but they’re determined that get there they will.