Last weekend, as I was folding laundry in our bedroom, my husband came creeping in and shut the door. Putting his finger to his lips, he tip-toed towards me. “Shhh … ” he said as I opened my mouth. “She’s crying.”
That got my attention. “Crying? Who? Not … ?” He nodded in response. “She’s looking at her baby book and crying.”
Further investigation revealed that he was right. Our eldest was in her room, sobbing over her baby book. Puzzled, I asked her what was wrong. Between tears, she managed to get out,”Because … I … don’t … want … to … grow … up!”
And immediately, I realised how much of a mistake I had made.
Over and over I have been told the same parenting sentiments: “It goes so fast!” and “Enjoy every moment” and “Cherish those babies while you can!” and oh, have I listened. I’ve listened, it turns out, a bit too well. Because somewhere along the way my poor, sweet daughter absorbed the message that the only age that children matter are the ages when they are diapered and dimpled. Somewhere along the way, my daughter absorbed the message that growing up was something to be feared, something to be delayed as long as possible, that growing up = growing irrelevant.
I won’t lie, I’m having a difficult time adjusting to not being the mum of “littles” anymore. But oh my goodness, this is not the way to go about it. I don’t want my daughter to hole up in her room, crying over the loss of the baby she thinks she needs to be to be treasured. I think we need to change our language a little bit, for mums and daughters and sons and dads like us, the ones who don’t need reminding that life is precious and fleeting and that the clasp of chubby arms around our necks are some of the best moments of our lives.
Honestly, I know how fast it goes. I know how it hurts. I know it so well that it keeps me up at night in a panic, calculating how much time I have left before they all leave me, before my arms are empty and aching, before I’m left a shell of the complete woman I once was. So please, please for the love of all that is good in this world, stop pressing parents like me to soak up every minute because it goes by so fast.
And instead help us to be happy to just watch our children grow up. Because really, what else can we do?
Why can’t it be OK to move through the stages and appreciate each one as they come? Why can’t it be OK to feel the love — and loss — of children growing up? Why can’t we give hope to parents like me, parents who have heard over and over how much we need to cherish these days, to the point that we feel paralyzed to move past them?
Maybe instead of instilling in parents of young children that the best years of their lives will forever be behind them instead of in front of them, we can offer a little hope. Because frankly, it feels like I’m so busy panicking and prematurely grieving that I’m missing these supposed best days of my life.
And I don’t want this to be it. I don’t want my children to think that I only love the roly-poly dimpled baby part of them. I want them to realise that I genuinely admire the people they are becoming, that I am fascinated by their growth, like the slow yet somehow sudden transformation of a butterfly spreading its wings overnight. I look at them and marvel at the personalities and kindness and grit that I see in them, even while my arms are forever stamped with the memory of holding them close to my heart.
I don’t want to hear how fast it goes anymore because trust me, I know. I’ve always known. I want to hear that it will be OK, no matter what. I want to hear that every stage has its own beauty and challenges. I want to hear that there is life after babies. I want to hear that I will still matter when I am no longer needed in the urgency of feeding, rocking, diapering. I want to hear that it’s OK to love your babies, to love every sweet, perfect moment, but still let them go — and grow.
I don’t need a reminder that this stage is precious. I know it and trust me, I appreciate it. But what I do need is some encouragement that having the privilege to witness my children growing up? Well, that’s pretty darn awesome, too.
Dress by Gap Kids.
Dress by Friboo.
Sweater by Outfit Kids. Shorts by Sisley Young. Shous by Wampum
Dress by Gap Kids.
Sweater by Outfit Kids. Shorts by Sisley Young. Shoes by Wampum.
Dress by Gap Kids.
Dress by Friboo, hat by molo.
Sweater Mango Kids Trousers by Magilla
Photographer Marta Ulisse
Model Anja Franceschino Stylist Francesca Faggiou Location Fattoria Fontegeloni