So unless there’s a miracle of nature, or a failure of science, I’ve officially departed the baby-making phase of my life. It was a straightforward decision in the end – a solemn promise I made that were we to indulge ourselves in a third baby, I could feel satiated, finished with that stage in my life. And I use this word indulgence – often, actually – because that’s exactly what our baby girl has been. Not just economically (who wouldn’t weigh up the pros of having more dosh available to them, one less college fund to hang over your head?), but emotionally and practically too. Each baby is a reversion – to more work, less sleep, more emotion, less time. A wonderful, addictive reversion granted, but there comes a time when you’ve gotta march forward.
So forward we go.
It hasn’t been without it’s share of sadness, naturally. Having set ourselves up for baby-free life with the usual doctor’s appointment, I sat in a coffee shop, feeling all of the heartache. But none of the doubt. Mankind strolled the street outside the window – school kids, the elderly, young student couples – I felt like a modern-day, non-Christmassy Scrooge with my entire life passing in front of me. The young Mums gave me a lump in my throat. Harried and hurried they were pushing buggies and dragging toddlers, the centres of their lives, through some of the happiest times of their lives (easy and patronising to say from a high stool with no-one screaming to stir the bejaysus out of your flat white, I admit). That world of pregnancy tests and scans and exciting news and baby gear would be no more for me. But what ya gonna do?
I drank up my coffee and got on with my life.
And so this has turned out to be the Summer of a very certain sense of ‘forward-ness’. The small fella is looking forward to school, the baby is determined to walk by the end of the holidays and the middle lady – all bravery and fast-running – is ready to start playschool. I used to write about how slow my days were; how quiet and meandering. But the whole bloody thing’s sped up, as everyone told me it would, filled now with chat and a fair degree of clutter and chaos that having three brings. There’s a distinct and quick-paced trajectory underpinning each of our days this Summer. I’m surrendering to it, but that surrender is in itself my bid to ‘own’ this fast-dwindling time. Really, I have no control and so I’m also now aware of myself just hanging on for dear life. Clutching onto my babies, who are looking more like miniature adults every day.
Along with this onward, forward movement, comes a huge sense of freedom. The breast feeding has just recently dwindled away and finished up for the nearly one-year old, so my sense of physical freedom is suddenly immense. My body is my own again, and will remain that way. Their path through the school gate means more time, no? So there’s a little more space, a little less reliance and a sense that there’s some kind of a brow of some sort of hill ahead of us and, well, let’s just say I’m excited to see over it to the other side.
My first peek came last weekend when I visited my brother, his wife and their new arrival, my brand new, perfect baby niece. I went to stay with them and enjoy her for an entire day and night, flying solo, eating my meals in peace, sleeping (heavily) all night and enjoying nigh-on shocking levels of conversation-focus and relaxation. I was a happy third-wheel to their team of two doting new parents who were in it, doing it, loving it. It’s their time.
Having babies is definitely magic. Often hard, many times joyous, mostly routine. But really, at it’s essence, life is magic. And so I can but wait to see what trick it’s got up it’s sleeve for me next. Whether I like it or not.