When Mads was born in December 2010, in all honesty I felt like a startled deer trapped in the headlights. Don’t get me wrong, I felt instant love for her, I adored her and I couldn’t get enough of this little bundle that had entered the world, but looking back motherhood didn’t immediately come naturally to me. The loving, nurturing protective side of motherhood yes, but I am talking about the practical side- the breastfeeding, the long days at home with a newborn and the early evenings spent pacing round the living room when she wouldn’t settle. It was all new and while most of the time I loved it, it also hit me like a ton of bricks. We also had a dreadful incident with Mads when she stopped breathing at a week old, so subsequently I became obsessed with waking up to check on her every couple of hours in the night. Those first few months just passed by in a blur of tiredness and feeling overwhelmed.
Fast forward a couple of years to when LL was born and instantly I was a lot more relaxed. The second time around was a lot easier, I knew what to do, I knew that the cracked and sore nipples from breastfeeding wouldn’t last forever, that babies sometimes just cry for no reason, and I knew how quickly the newborn stage would be over. While of course I had bad days, for the most part I relished those newborn days and loved spending time with this tiny human we had created.
As a result I have always had a fierce bond with LL. Writing this implies somehow that I don’t have that with Mads, but that’s not true, Mads and I have a different bond all of our own and both my girls hold the exact same amount of love in my heart. But LL has always felt like my baby, of course she is our baby and is the baby of the family at least for the moment, but she’s always felt like the one who I got to really appreciate those early days of motherhood with.
Mads is the one who I am learning with, she will always be the oldest and she will always hit those milestones first. She was the first one who I sobbed in the car over on the day on her first day of nursery, she is the one who I make mistakes or have successes with when it comes to learning, discipling and guiding- perhaps giving her juice to early instead of water or learning whether the naughty step works after a series of almighty tantrums. She is the one who I watched walk tentatively into the classroom on the first day of primary school. There was a huge ache in my heart then- it is there often but sometimes it lies dormant- for the way I yearn to hang on to who my children are right now. But with Mads, she’s the first to get there. I know I have another attempt at those milestones and emotional moments with LL. While there is always a part of me who thinks of my future self who’ll miss this very moment on this very day, I know that in part I get to do them again with LL and, all being well with their little brother too. That makes my bond with them both very different.
With LL I feel like I get to observe and reflect along the way.
With Mads we had 26 months together before her little sister arrived, just her and me. Those lazy mornings spent sat on the sofa with her asleep in my arms watching reruns of Sex and the City. Where we had all the time in the world. LL hasn’t had that. When she was born she just sort of slotted in. She didn’t nap in her cot until she was about seven months, she slept on the sofa next to me as I was scared she would wake her sister. We didn’t have a chance to go to baby groups, or baby yoga, or spend hours sat with friends eating cake in Costa. We just didn’t have that time together as Mads was bigger and her demands were greater.
At least not until September. When Mads started school in September, all of a sudden it was myself and LL properly for the first time ever. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, those are our days. Just her and me. With nothing to worry about except the school run. We have developed our own little routine, on a Monday we see my Mum usually, Wednesday is our ballet class and Friday we see friends or just chill out and have a day at home. And of course we might throw something more exciting into the mix too.
In that short time my littlest girl has grown so much. She’s gone from being our baby to being a proper little girl. She’s developing her own crazy personality and the quirks that make her her. She’s the most laid back and chilled out little girl and for the most part she makes our days together so easy. It’s almost like now is our time, the time she didn’t get when she was a newborn. I am relishing it so much and I know she is too. When her sister is here they play together constantly, laughing, giggling and generally filling their days with fun, but when it is just LL and I it’s like she opens up. She chatters non stop and speaks her mind more. She becomes a bit braver as she doesn’t have her big sister to look after her or talk for her.
I know that in a few short months she’ll be back to sharing her Mummy again. Albeit it will be different, she will be the bigger one this time and she’ll be the one who is more in control, but still everything will change again. I don’t feel guilty for that because I will go out of my way to make sure I divide my time equally between my children and lets face it having a baby in the house will be lots of fun for us all, but it will change, of course it will. It won’t just be her and me anymore.
So for now we are soaking in every minute of our time together. Those three days a week where the pace goes slower and where we enjoy each others undivided attention. We will take lots of photos, cuddle non stop and make sure we store up the memories in our heads. Time is fleeting and I won’t get this time back with her, just as I won’t get the time back just myself and Mads.
I understand that these joys of motherhood change, grow and develop over time. And I have an acute awareness that time is fleeting and I won’t get this time back with her. So we are going to enjoy this lazy, easy routine we have over the next few months.
Just her and me.
(We took these photos last week and I absolutely love them all…)0