I DON’T dispute that I’m crazy. Undoubtedly insane, certifiably coo-coo and unequivocally mad.
That said, I miss my kids sleeping with me.
Last Monday, I swallowed a concrete pill, hardened up and MADE my kids stay in their beds. All Night. It was tiring (understatement) and I’ve still got a sore throat (as happens when you’re running barefoot over cold tile floors in the dead of night). In fact, I sleep in my dressing gown, ready to spring out of bed and soothe one or the other back to sleep. But they did it and I’m so proud.
I used to wake up wedged between two warm, sometimes sweaty bodies. Pudgy arms wrapped around my neck. Wayward legs thrown haphazardly over my torso. The blanket tangled amongst us like some sort of fabric Rubik’s cube. Their steady breath tickling my face or throat.
And as they stirred, I could cuddle them close, coax them into another 30 minutes of quiet, followed with a gentle prompt into the land of the living from my son.
“Mum, the sun is up.”
Since my daughter insists upon waking up around 5.30am, I still tuck her into my armpit (where she’s happiest – this is not my preferred position!) and she’ll go back to sleep for an hour or so.
But my son wakes up to his new Buzz Lightyear alarm (or he would if I could set it properly) and greets the morning with his Dad who starts on breakfast (since I have a growth still attached to my ribcage).
My son, who is less and less likely to give impromptu kisses and cuddles, is growing up. My daughter, obsessed with the potty and cups that have no “sippy” prefix, is also growing up. In fact, between the two of them, the only things that say “baby” anymore are nappies and her dummy.
Suddenly, I’m watching everything with a timer. I watch them with intent now. Each new word uttered and every challenge they overcome.
And I’m sad.
I’m cherishing every “Mummy, mummy, mummy!” that gets shouted at me, because I realise that that too won’t happen forever. The meals that I lovingly prepare which are, without exception, fussed over, mauled, spat out and thrown on the floor are no longer the frustrations they were before.
It’s just food and I’m much busier trying to imprint on my brain, “Son, age 3, engaging with a celery stick”, like a mental polaroid.
My daughter sits on my lap as I work, smooshing my cheeks between her grubby fingers, and pressing her face into mine with giggles and snorts. The game is to try and see past her, try and do my work, when all I really want is to hold her tight, stare into her eyes and smile.
I’m grateful for all the new games – impromptu discos in the dining room, making a “man house” for Son’s Lego men, drawing faces on potatoes – but can’t help but hold a place for the desperate cries of my babies.
Mothers hold their children’s hands for awhile, but their hearts forever. I used to think the saying was a bit naff, but I see the sense in it now. Sometimes we need to cling on to our kids just as much as they need to cling to us.