The other day my seven-year-old finished his dinner. He slid off his chair and ran down the hallway to resume play. His eleven year old brother followed him shuffling and flicking his hair to the side, nonchalant and cool in his demeanour.
When he was seven he ran everywhere like his little brother does now. Seeing the difference between the two of them sometimes stops me in my tracks. When did he stop running everywhere?
Right now when I pick Little up from school he runs out with his arms open wide shouting “Muuummmmmyyyyy” and nearly bowls me over with his fierce hug. Big now walks home by himself, but even when I do pick him up, I am met with a nod and a “Hi” in a voice that’s getting deeper by the day. It’s fair to say he doesn’t greet me with quite the same enthusiasm levels as his little brother.
Don’t get me wrong. I get it. I wouldn’t expect my 11 year old to greet me in the style of his Little brother. He’s way to cool. But there was a time that he did. The same as he used to greet his teacher each morning with a hug. The thought of doing so now would be pure humiliation for him!
I find myself holding on a bit tighter to Little’s enthusiastic hugs, knowing that there’s a time limit. Watching them grow up is a privilege. Seeing who they are becoming. But I do at times find myself trying to stop that sand slipping through my fingers just to savour a moment for a bit longer.
Some changes in their childhood smack you in the face and take your breath away. That first giggle. Those first steps. The first time they say “Mama”. Learning to ride a bike. Reading a book to you. Throwing up in the sick bowl rather than all over their bed! Those moments are gut wrenching, in their conflicting emotions. You are thrilled at their development and what the next stage brings, but at the same time you are sad for the stage you are leaving behind and want to hold onto it for a bit longer. Maybe minus the covering you in vomit one.
But other things creep up on you. You don’t notice they have happened until something reminds you that they no longer do. The beloved toy that used to accompany them everywhere, now cast aside and forgotten. The super hero costume that used to be worn every day, now frayed, grubby, and far too small.
How can it all be going by so fast, yet I can barely remember a time when my life wasn’t filled by them. The days are long but the years are short. Cliche but true.
Every birthday I think back to the day they arrived into the world and wonder how it could be so many years ago because it feels like yesterday. So many times I think that if I blink I will miss their childhood as it speeds by me. Yet there are often days that seem to last forever. Some beautiful sunny days filled with laughter and picnics. Some not so sunny and filled with a lot of stomping and whinging whilst you clock-watch until their bed time.
When they were babies I thought I would remember everything. I mean how could I possibly forget any of those milestones or memories? But you do. Facebook will throw up a memory of a random conversation with Big when he was a toddler, normally involving lots of “why’s?”, and the memory long buried beneath passwords and homework days and too many other kids names to mention, makes its way to the surface and transports me back. And with a somewhat rose tinted haze I will wish I could go back, just for a little bit. Just to squeeze that chubby hand, and sniff that gorgeous head. To pick him up and receive an over exuberant toddler kiss.
Big starts secondary school in September and Little will be going up to Juniors (Or key stage 2 as they now call it!) I no longer have two small boys. We no longer frequent soft plays, and my lounge isn’t filled with plastic toys. Sleepless nights are rare and eating out is much easier then it used to be. I can leave the house without bags full of spare everything. I can clean the kitchen without a small child emptying the saucepan cupboard. The kids growing up definitely has its perks. These days I even get to pee in peace. Although that’s not to say they don’t start world war three between them whilst in in the loo.
Time keeps marching on. My kids keep outgrowing their shoes.
It’s just that when I look back, I can’t recall when it happened. When did it change from “Mamma” to “Mummy” to “Mum”?
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