I CAN feel Elsie’s childhood slipping through my fingers.
Really, I can.
Those special moments, this special age she’s at, it’s all slipping through my fingers at an alarming rate.
I’ve been hanging on, trying to keep up, doing my best to stop them all slipping through, but it’s been a struggle.
And recently I’ve had a wake up call.
At three and a half, Elsie will start school this September, as she was a summer baby. I’ve been filling in her school application form these last few days and although it seems totally ridiculous, in eight months time, my girl, my beautiful girl, won’t be spending the majority of her days with me anymore.
She’ll be spending them at school.
With her new friends and her first teacher, in reception year.
Just writing this now makes me choke up a little. Because I’ll be honest, I cannot believe it. I know everyone says it, but it’s true, I really don’t know where the time has gone.
The last three and half years have whizzed by in a blink of an eye and if it wasn’t for the magnificent, big ‘little girl’ who stands in front of me or the hundreds of photos of her on my phone, I almost wouldn’t believe that she is no longer a baby.
It just doesn’t seem quite right.
She’s gone from my beautiful, bouncing bundle to my loving, funny, spirited little girl, in the blink of an eye.
All under my watch.
Yet I can’t help but feel that I’ve missed so much of it. Too much of it. For reasons that I know so many of us struggle with each and every day.
Because I’ve been working so much and cramming in extra work whenever I possibly could. Because I’ve been trying to do housework or work on our house and been impatient to get stuff done. Because I’ve had too much on my mind at times and have been emotionally exhausted.
Because I’ve been shattered. Because I’ve been busy. Because I’ve been trying to cram everything in.
And this realisation?
Well it hurts.
The clock is ticking, it’s getting faster. And all I want to do is slow it down.
Elsie is my much longed for child.
She took a long time to come to my husband and I and there were many, many times when I thought that I would never be a mother. That it would never happen for me.
I was in Florence when we conceived and I knew it and felt it with all of my being, weeks before taking a pregnancy test. As I wandered the historic streets of this most beautiful, most elegant city, I felt her presence, long before I had it confirmed.
I don’t know how this is possible, some would perhaps argue that it isn’t, but it is. I just knew.
And then nine or so months later, she arrived.
My girl. Our girl.
Turning our world on its axis and changing our lives in a millisecond. So this is love, I used to say myself, as I gazed at her tiny screwed up face.
This. Is. Love.
And of course, it is.
Because as a parent, watching your child grow and develop into their own incredible little person, is the kind of stuff that dreams are made of.
Real dreams. The stuff that matters.
Sure it’s hard at times. Sure it’s exhausting and can often feel impossible, but to be with your child, to have the privilege of watching them grow older, really is quite something.
Certainly, I’ve never known or felt anything quite like it.
Before Elsie transformed my world, I thought I knew all about love. And yet I knew very little.
Because the love you have for a child reaches places in your heart you didn’t even know existed. It unlocks doors. It breaks down walls. It triggers. It touches. It fills you up.
Every day I fall in love with Elsie a little more.
Every day, she consumes my thoughts.
Every day, she makes my life brighter.
I cry when I see how beautiful she looks in her ballet outfit. I roar with laughter with some of the phrases she comes out with. And I learn more from her than I have anyone else.
There have been so many special moments in our three and half years together.
More than I could have ever hoped for. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of them, firmly planted in my memory, still in bloom.
But I want more of them.
And I want more of the little moments too.
Damn it, I’d stop the clock if I had that power. But of course, I don’t. And I can’t.
But I can do this.
I can slow down a little. I can turn my life down a notch. I can try and be more structured with my time.
I can start to make more of an effort to appreciate the little moments. I can stop working when she’s at home and leave my emails alone for a few hours.
I can make sure I look after myself, so I have much more of me to give to her. I can be more present. I can ignore my phone.
And I am.
I’m going to do all of these things and many more over the coming months, because Elsie’s childhood is slipping through my fingers and I don’t want to miss a beat of it.
I can’t stop her growing up. (Nor would I want to really.)
But I can catch those moments as they slip through and I can pop them in my memory box. I can make sure I’m present, like really present, in those moments. And I can make sure those moments really are something for us both to remember.
One day before I know it, she’ll be an even bigger girl. And then, in another blink of an eye, an adult.
But until then, I’m making an effort to slow my life down a notch, so I can enjoy being much more present in hers.
And I’m holding onto the special times and the not so special times, with both my hands as firmly as I can.