Everyone knows that life and particularly motherhood is full of firsts. First baby, first foods, first steps, first words, first day at school and many many more.
But we don’t always appreciate that it’s also full of lasts. And that can be hard.
This weekend I was standing in a supermarket in a queue behind a heavily pregnant woman. Now I make no secret of the fact that I hated being pregnant (and you can read about why it’s OK to be miserable when you are pregnant). You couldn’t pay me enough money to do it again but yet…
There was still a little pang as I realised I’ll never be that pregnant woman again. I won’t get to look forward to the birth of my baby. I won’t have people getting excited when I tell them I’m expecting. Or I won’t ever feel a baby kicking inside me again. And part of me finds that really sad.
This was something I didn’t appreciate with my first two children. I guess part of me knew that I’d do it all again at some point. When I put baby gear in the loft I knew I’d use it again and I didn’t feel so sad. When DD2 went off on her first day of school I knew that I’d still get to be at home with another child at some point so it didn’t feel so bad.
But now I’m getting to the hard part of motherhood. The point at which I start experiencing things for the last time, not the first.
I’m currently in the process of packing up the moses basket and crib that we’ve used for baby number 3. It will be given to a good home but not used by me again. Bags and bags of baby clothes are being put into a loft ready to be passed along to someone else to use. My son is pretty much sleeping through the night and whilst I’m definitely less tired than I was, part of me still misses those 4am feeds.
I know that there will be lots more ‘lasts’ as he gets older. The last time he wants to sit on my lap. The last time he wants to hold my hand. Or the last time he thinks its cool to walk to school with mum. This time there won’t be another baby to help me deal with the inevitable sadness of watching my children grow up. And that’s a hard realisation to have.
So why am I telling you this?
Because it’s easy to wish that our babies or children would hit milestones, grow out of something or just get that little bit older. We spend months wishing they’d start rolling, crawling, walking or talking. We want them to get a bit bigger so they sleep for longer or don’t need to be held so much. Or we can get so fed up with the monotony of being at home that we long for the day we can go back to work or when baby goes to nursery.
But I’ve been through this three times now and I only have one piece of advice for any new mum (or old mum) – don’t wish it away. Cherish each and every moment, even the crappy ones. Yes sometimes it’s hard but the one thing you can guarantee is that it’s not forever. One day you’ll realise that your baby has turned into a toddler or your toddler into a child. It goes really (really) quickly so make sure you take time to just stop and enjoy what you have right now.
And when you do hit those ‘lasts’ don’t pretend they aren’t happening. Don’t bottle it up or suppress things. It’s OK to feel sad when your kids grow up. Or when you know that you hit certain milestones for the last time. The sad times help us to appreciate the good times and remind us to look back fondly on the memories that we’ve made.
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