LIFE has changed.
And I have entered a new parenting stage.
Because you see, no longer is ‘my baby’ a baby or a toddler, but a girl. A proper little girl.
First came the potting training, which worked – second time round – like an absolute treat.
And then came the loss of the day nap.
The glorious day time naps – that were (so often) vital for my sanity – are gone and now just a mere twinkle of a memory.
No naps. And no nappies.
Suddenly, within a few weeks, my girl has really grown up and is – as she, oh so proudly calls herself, – a ‘big girl’.
(Or a big ‘little girl’ to me).
There is no baby left in our child.
Our baby has gone and instead, standing in her place, is a loving, spirited, clever and fiercely independent ‘big girl’.
It hit me last week. That baby Elsie has well and truly left the building and it made me feel a little emotional.
But when Elsie was a baby, there were many times, when I wanted her to grow up as quickly as she could.
Particularly around the nine month age, when we had a tough ol’ time of it.
Very little sleep for weeks on end and an exhausted, cranky baby girl did not a happy household make.
In fact, just thinking back now, makes me tense at the memory.
So during these challenging and utterly exhausting times, I would often say, “come on Elsie, please grow up!”, mainly so we could all look forward to some sleep.
I knew I shouldn’t say it, of course.
I know that being a parent is about slowing down and appreciating all the little moments, but do you know what?
When I was absolutely knackered and just about holding things together, I forget all of this and I did wish the future away, in moments of desperation and through tears.
Because I am, after all, only human.
And sometimes, there are times when you feel like you’ve never going to get through a tricky phase or months of sleep deprivation hell.
But then one day, low and behold, my baby grew up.
She became a toddler, almost overnight. More independent and on the move.
And then pufffff!
Just when I’m juggling work and life and the washing and trying to make her tea, I turn around one day and there stands a ‘big girl’.
It’s taken nearly three years, but I swear it feels like it’s all happened in the blink of an eye.
So yes, there are times when I miss her baby cuddles and yearn to gently squidge those chubby cheeks.
There are times when I reminisce about her first steps and first words and cannot quite fathom that it all happened months and months ago.
And oh my, there are times when I would give anything to go back in time, to relive our first hours together, those magical moments when she had first arrived into the world.
But I cannot go back of course.
And my baby has gone.
No longer do I need to change a nappy or help her eat her food.
No longer does she need to nap.
No longer do I need to rock and cuddle her to sleep.
Because now she is my ‘big girl’.
Because now, instead of naps, we get to have longer adventures and proper days out.
Instead of changing nappies, I get to buy her the prettiest pants.
Instead of doing everything for her, I now get to watch her do things for herself.
I am needed less for some things. But needed more for so many others.
And so on we go, into this new stage.
Together, growing and changing and learning and adapting.
Occasionally we stumble and step on each other toes, but mostly we move in synch, going with each other’s flow.
Together we do a bonkers, chaotic, merry ol’ dance.
Feet moving. Hands together.
Her little hand, in mine.
And when we dance and I watch her chuckle…
And when she falls and I pick her up…
And when she cries and I comfort her…
That it doesn’t really matter how old she gets or how big she grows, because she’ll always be my baby.
And that whenever she needs me, at any age or stage, I’ll always be there to hold her hand, helping her to find her dancing feet.