Children grow so fast. Some days seem to drag, some days you wish they’d move up a developmental stage faster, but when you look back you realise just how quickly it’s gone. How that baby that was so weak and vulnerable, so wide eyed and dependent on you, has suddenly transformed into a little person who happily disappears through the school gates without a second thought.
I love our walk to school, I genuinely love it. Sometimes I watch her trotting along, knee high socks, shiny shoes and little school dress and I just wish I was filming it. As she races across the grass towards the bridge over the brook, giggles in excitement when a butterfly spins around her head before vanishing into the sun, or tightly holds my hand and smiles up at me, I get a real hit in the chest about how short this time will be.
Soon she won’t run to school, she’ll trudge along with her friends complaining about my mothering skills and gossiping about the boy she fancies. If a butterfly spins around her head she’ll waft it away and keep texting. She won’t hold my hand and when she looks at me it won’t be from so far below me, it’ll be eyeline or higher, and those eyes won’t be so filled with innocence and wonder. They’ll hold the cynicism that creeps into even the most innocent teenagers lives.
Then she’ll be an adult. She’ll be grown and gone. The memory of her grey school skirt flapping around her legs as she spins around a lamppost, the intense fascination she finds from watching a caterpillar crawl along the pavement, these will be distant memories.
Today as we walked we discovered a caterpillar and a snail, we jumped over cracks in the pavements and felt the bark on trees, and we crunched our shoes through fallen autumn leaves. I watched her and felt tears in my eyes. My little girl. My little girl so full of wonder and joy. So excited to find a conjoined acorn top and so enthusiastic to take it in and show it to her teacher.
The whole time I had baby B strapped to my chest and it felt like just weeks ago that I carried Rose around that way. Like so recently she needed me as intensely as baby B needs me now.
If I could bottle these perfect memories of my girls as they grow, then Harry Potter style just slip into them when I missed my beautiful three year old, it would be perfect.
My scruffy girl, with her short messy hair, her perpetually grubby face, and her fascination with dirt. My loving girl who has mastered the best way to give her baby sister a cuddle whilst supporting her head and not smushing her. My clever girl who asks about everything and loves to learn. My baby girl. My baby girl who isn’t a baby anymore and hasn’t been a baby for such a long time. My baby girl who will always be my baby.
And soon it’ll be this one. This baby who right now is curled up on my chest having a breast feed. This baby who I find myself getting frustrated by her desire to be on me all day and all night. This baby who in mere minutes, will be big and grown and off and will never curl up on my chest again. And then I’ll never have another baby to get frustrated by. I’ll never have another little girl to watch snails crawl the pavements with. I’ll never have another girl to watch walk into school. I’ll never have another little girl to hold the hand of, ask about her day, and hear “I missed you, mummy” from.
If I could bottle these memories, dive into them at will, I’d never forget. I’d never forget how clear and grey her eyes are as she watches me explain about autumn and the changing seasons. I’d never forget the feel of her tiny, soft hands as she holds onto me to help balance as she walks along a wall.
But I will forget. I don’t remember every detail of her babyhood and that was just three years ago. In thirty? What will I remember?
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