My baby turned 8 last Friday. Normally as a parent, I find birthdays really quite bittersweet especially with my youngest child Don’t get me wrong, definitely more sweet than bitter but birthdays – all birthdays – feel like such a huge milestone. A time for celebration of course but part of me usually can’t help but think back to birthdays gone by and I always get a bit misty eyed about the passing of the years. All those clichés about where have the years gone yada yada. And of course, all of those clichés might still be true but I feel so content with where we are as a family now that I no longer yearn for the baby years that we will never have again. I don’t know if it’s because 8 is a particularly lovely age? And it really is. Or if it is because in the last year we made the decision that our family is complete? For a long while there, we were very much in the never say never camp. But for whatever reason, this birthday hasn’t felt bittersweet at all. Just happy. Happy, happy, happy.
There have been times over the years with every one of them where I have wanted to stop time and keep them just as they are. But I just don’t get that feeling anymore. Maybe seeing my teens grow up has taught me that actually, them getting older isn’t such a bad thing after all? There is good and bad in all the various stages of childhood of course but this middly bit in the primary school years is definitely one of the best bits. They still hold your hand and laugh at your jokes and you still have a good while before the dreaded hormones hit around the time they start high school. Time does fly by but I think I have learnt that the best way to make the most of it is to just enjoy the moment. Not to hold on to that impossible wish to keep them at that particular age forever because actually, the next stage might be just as much fun. Or at least not as bad as you thought it might be.
Seeing my eldest two on the cusp of becoming such awesome grown ups (even though I do say so myself) is amazing. Like, mind-blowingly-how-did-we-ever-make-such-awesome-kids amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not wishing the years away here but actually I’ve realised that the whole raising children thing is about seeing them through each stage of childhood (good and bad) to get to this very point. I’m seeing my teenagers make steps into their own big wide world. And it’s exciting. Sometimes a tiny bit scary (and sometimes a whole lot scary) but mostly exciting. It’s such a privilege to see my eldest two reach this point and it makes me look forward to what lies ahead for my youngest two rather than be sad for the years that we can never get back if that makes sense?
Of course, if experience has taught me anything then it is that parenting tends to swing from ‘we got this’ to ‘oh my godfathers what do we do now’ so I am fully aware that this post is likely to bite me on the bum at some point. But for now, I will enjoy the contentment that has come from the happiest of happy birthdays.