As a home educating mum I have become aware of those child hood firsts that I missed with my older children. I have written previously about them. The first missing tooth that fell out in the classroom, the teacher who had the job of carefully wrapping the precious little pearly white in a tissue and envelope to come come home for the tooth fairy, the classroom assistant who sat with them by the sink while they rinsed their mouth out. The first time that they read a tricky word out loud. The first time they played shop, or “IT”. The first time they scored a goal. The first time they managed to follow instructions to independently build a model. I missed these moments for my older children. I remember being told about them, I remember reading about them in their learning records. So I wont forget them, I am aware that they happened, but I didn’t see them.
It was bought to my attention last year when I sat and watched my toddler launch into a game of “shop keepers” completely by himself in town one day. He hadnt done this before, and I knew that, so I sat on the wall and I watched him play his game. Roping his elder brother and sister into pretending to be his customers. While he served up imaginary pizza, tea and toys.
The last three years have been full of firsts for our family, and there are so many still to continue to come that I look forward to being part of. But in thinking about the firsts, there is a small sadness creeping in. It is equal parts with acceptance, so the sadness can not be confused for any sort of regret, but it is there none the less.
You see, my husband and I decided that this baby, Michael, number four, would be our last. No more babies. So it was my last time being pregnant, my last time nervously and excitedly holding my husbands hand while staring at the ultrasound monitor. My last time ticking off our list of essentials for a new baby. I have already seen my last babies first smile. I have watched my baby roll over for the first time, the last time. Those clothes that he has grown out of, will never be worn by one of my babies ever again. My baby is teething, I hate the discomfort he clearly feels, but no I don’t want that tooth to hurry up and cut through, because his first tooth will be my last first tooth! And he is getting bigger and will soon be starting to wean and explore new tastes and textures of solid food. I am excited to see him experiencing new things, but I don’t need that to hurry up. Because his first solid food, will be the last time I start introducing solid food.
And those lasts, the last times when we don’t realise it was the last time until looking back you realise. Michael’s lasts really will be my lasts! At some point, I changed Nicks nappy for the last time. I didn’t realise then that it would be the last time. It just happened, I took a nappy off him to put in the wash, and he didn’t ever wear a nappy again. There was a last time that my husband gave him a bottle. We didn’t know at the time that I wouldn’t express him a bottle again. A storage tub of expressed milk stayed in the freezer way longer than it was ok to use. He doesn’t go up in wraps very often at all anymore. He did in July when we were on holiday, but only once. Soon I suspect I will look back and think about the last time he went “up”. He doesn’t grab our pretty woven wraps and demand up the way he used to anymore I know that for sure. But his lasts are not my lasts.
The day will come, Michaels lasts. His last nappy, his last bottle, his last breastfeed, his last snuggly wrap nap. These will be my lasts as well. I know that with parenthood the adventures don’t ever stop. I know that there will be so much to enjoy and so many fantastic firsts and big moments ahead of us as a family. But that knowledge, these big first moments are my last, it is a little bit sad. I will soak them in, enjoy them. Never be too busy to stop what I am doing and cuddle. Those small arms around my neck are the most precious jewels that a mother can ever have.
I know how fast the time goes. My eldest child turns 16 in less than 2 months time. Where have the years gone? Time just slips through our fingers and is gone. Grasp it, breathe it in, live it and enjoy it. I read once, we only have 18 summers with out children and then they are gone. Just 18 of these long summer breaks to fit in what we want to do, to fill their hearts and souls with summer memories to last them a life time.
I am in the middle of processing this. My time to make childhood memories with my daughter is nearly up. How many more summers will I have with her to do daft bonkers things before she finds herself tied down by adult responsibilities? I am enjoying her big lasts, some pretty big firsts on the horizon for her as well. The time is just keeping on passing and there is no way to pause it or slow it down. This knowledge doesn’t stop me feeling excited for the future, and feeling totally blessed that I get this time with my children. But It also makes me a little bit sad, and feeling that is ok too.