Charlie was just six weeks old when someone said to me that the days are long but the years are short. I was a new mum, truly and madly in love with my son but I also had this weird anxiety about everything so any snippet of wisdom offered to me I grabbed much the same way as I would grab a wagon wheel and a glass of wine. Preferably consumed together. I remember being clouded in self-doubt and during those dusky days this was the one thought that most resonated with me.
Every time someone would say to me “enjoy this time, it goes so fast” I would stare at them as if they were bloody insane. Were we living in the same universe? Those early days, the ones that were an endless, monotonous whirl of settling, feeding, sleeping were long. They were the best days and the worst but weirdly, the best kind of worst. It did not feel as though it was going fast. Actually I’m sure some of those days stood still.
My son turned three this week. He kind of understood this. He knows he was having a party and like mother, like son, he knew there would be gifts. Probably not what the experts would consider ideal. Anyway, he also knows his number. He understands he is a three. It’s a bit cute, except when he asks me what my number is. That’s not cute. Then he asks MM what his number is and well, that’s cute and a little bit funny.
So three years have passed and those years are indeed short.
For a long time I feared I would never meet my child. It’s a fear that would often derail me and overwhelm me with its absolute reality. I couldn’t contemplate it back then and now that he is here, and because of who he is, I cannot fathom how he could not be anything other than mine. Than ours.
Six months I wrote about what two and a half felt like. If you want, you can read that here. But now this is three. This is what three feels like.
In turning my world upside down, Charlie has turned my heart inside out. I could never imagine what it would be like to feel so exposed and yet to be the mother of a tiny being who relies on me so much. I question who is the most vulnerable of the two of us.
Some days I’m wondering who is more in control because if there is one thing that motherhood has done to me (and by lord there’s a shitload of things it’s done) is that it has challenged my need to be in control. Recently I yelled at Charlie, and I get that most parents yell at their children, it’s a rite of passage and the most normal of behaviours but it shocked me by how bad I felt afterwards. I was attempting to get the two of us out of the house in time for work and there was no getting him dressed, he had it in his head that he would like to stay in his pajamas for the day. Yeah, well that makes two of us buddy. No amount of coercing could convince him to help me get him changed. He lost it, as did I. I didn’t stamp my feet quite like he did but I sure as heck wanted to. So I yelled. Then I felt bad. There’s that mothers guilt again. My self-reliant, self-ruling toddler was in control and I wasn’t in. Lesson learnt.
I don’t think I have allowed motherhood to define me, but it has definitely balanced me. What I perceive as being critical and important is suddenly a lot less significant. Think less, feel more. Easier said than done for a Virgo. Still, another lesson learnt.
My little three year old is such a contrast of personality and this is really quite lovely. For all of the rubbish trucks and recycling trucks (and make no mistake he knows the difference and will tell you lest you get it wrong) there are books and puzzles. We teeter between the roughness of trucks and diggers and the sweetness of songs and cuddles. He is loud and boisterous and spirited. Of course he is, he is three, and all of those things are his job. But like night is to day, he is also funny and affectionate. Holy shit he is funny.
I guess every parent says that about their kid.
They say three is the threenagers and my little threenager is terrifying in his steadfast determination. Cheeky and clever, his deep brown eyes sparkle with innocent curiosity. He is at that age where he questions everything and I’m at that stage where I love answering his questions. I have absolutely no idea if spiders cry and I am not sure why carrots are orange. I’ll come back to you when he’s four and let you know how I’m feeling then about all these questions but right now I’m proud of his ability to think and query. He floods our days with light but of course it isn’t all sunshine, tea and toast because honestly some days I am overwhelmed by the frustration and nothingness. I’m tired, grumpy and feel like my life is an endless bowl of spaghetti bolognese. I stand at the kitchen bench and look at the sticky finger marks on the doors and windows. I’m far from compelled to wipe them but I do wonder when they will go away.
His independence terrifies me and I watch him test the limits and how he pushes and pulls against me. I know I need to take the sign off my forehead that says “helicopter parent” so I can let him make his own judgement about what is safe and what isn’t and I do sometimes worry and wonder if my parenting is screwing things up for him. But then I remember, he is healthy, he is happy and I know this is enough.
So happy birthday to my little boy, my three year old who is still, and always will be, my baby and will always be my reason.