Tonight I said goodnight to my eight year old for the last time. Tomorrow I will be the mother of an nine year old.
My Facebook Memories reminded me that this time nine years ago, he was causing me all kinds of bother and refusing to be born. It wasn’t the easiest of labours (to put it mildly) and he kept us waiting 16 days past his due date, but the minute I met him I was smitten.
My life changed when he was born. He made me a mum. He made me realise what it was like to love someone so completely, so selflessly. Elizabeth Stone once said having a child is “to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body”, and it was only after J was born I realised what that meant.
As a first time mum I was exhausted, but also consumed by a love so ferocious I knew I would do anything to keep my little bundle safe. A love that actually inspired by blogger name. A mama bear who would do anything to protect her cubs.
Which is why I’m finding it so hard that my tiny little baby is now nine years old. He desperately wants more independence and I know he doesn’t need to be protected all the time. Yet it goes against all my natural instincts to allow him that element of freedom.
I know I need to step back. Let him make his own choices (within reason!) I need to fight against the urge to keep him close to me so I can smother him with love.
He can be silly and immature when he’s with his siblings or his friends, but in some ways he’s wise beyond his years. He takes his job as big brother extremely seriously. He’s clever and witty and has a big heart. He’s a sensitive soul which he hides well from those who don’t know him as well as us.
He’s intense and if he’s passionate about something it will become an obsession. He’s got a fantastic memory, he’s competitive and determined to do his best. He can be surly and grumpy and unreasonable and just when he has me at breaking point, he will do something to make me laugh.
In short, he’s a miniature version of his dad.
He looks like his dad, he loves maths, science and football like his dad and it’s lovely to see them talking about things they have in common. They’ve always had a special bond, even as a toddler it would be “daddy this” and “daddy that”. Despite that, if he was ever upset he would want me. He was my baby and I had that ability to soothe his woes.
Which is probably another reason why I’m finding it so hard to see him grow up. He needs me less and that’s hard to take. He doesn’t run to me for cuddles any more. He darts into school as quick as he can to avoid the embarrassment of me giving him a kiss.
It made me wonder at what point he stopped wanting to give me a hug in public. At what point I became so embarrassing! At what point he stopped wanting t-shirts with dinosaurs on.
I wrote a post about focusing on the last time my youngest child does something, and I’ve been so focused on that I’ve barely noticed how grown up my eldest has become. It saddens me that his childhood is flying by so quickly. My husband and I were discussing earlier that we think we may have had our last Christmas where all our children are believers. He has such an inquisitive mind and is obsessed with facts, I just don’t think we will get away with it again this year.
I start to feel sad about how much is changing and then suddenly something miraculous happens. I go out shopping and he actually asks to come with me! Yesterday J and I went shopping, just the two of us, while my husband stayed at home with the youngest two.
We had the loveliest afternoon just us two. We have great days out as a family but it was so nice to have that one on one time with him. We chatted and laughed and were silly together. We bought him some new trainers and a new lego game, and he only grumbled slightly when I dragged him into the Next sale!
We chatted as we were stuck in traffic on the way home. We talked about everything from Ant McPartlin (J is a big fan of Saturday Night Takeaway) to child birth! He was the only one of my children born by caesarean section and has always been fascinated by it. As we were laughing after a silly anecdote I had told him, he suddenly said “you’ve made me so happy today I forgot it was my birthday on Monday”. He then went on to say he’d enjoyed having that time to be able to talk together and I acknowledged that it was rare we got the chance to spend time one on one. He happily said he understood why and it had just made the afternoon more special.
My first feeling was guilt. I’m all too familiar with the sensation of mum guilt. I really should make more of an effort to spend more one on one time with each of the kids. But I pushed the negativity aside and let happiness take over.
He may be less dependent on me. He may not need me to fight all his battles for him. He may not need me quite so much, but then I realise there’s something better than being needed. It’s far better to be wanted. He wants to spend time with me, he wants to chat and be silly and laugh together.
So maybe I can stop feeling jealous of the bond he and his dad share. I may not know all the names of the footballers, or the answer to his many questions about space, but that doesn’t matter.
I’m his mum.