Our little one four years old.
Four years old and I can’t help but wonder, how often, in that short space of time, have I said, “It’ll be easier when…” As working parents, we go from house to car to work to car to house. Never ending regular routines and schedules that can’t be diverged from for fear of being late or losing control of the weekday madness and falling into a never-ending trap of rushing, panicking and losing precious time.
It’ll be easier when she can walk, when she can talk, when she can put her own coat on. It’ll always be easier when independence grows, I thought. But it’s never truly easy and the endless rushing from day to day is simply hard. As a working parent, that hot cup of tea, those adult conversations and the quiet as I commute to the office is not a prize for working. It’s a reminder that I made it out the door with or without stress. But surely someday “It’ll be easier when…”
She was five months old when I went back to work and I threw myself head first into a full working week. And there I have remained since. She was a happy baby with a perfect routine that rarely veered off course. She went with the flow of our daily grind and happily nestled in with Great Aunt as we worked our days away.
She loved her finger food and by eight months old she was happily nibbling away. Meals became fun and messy. Bottles were few and far between. And she could hold a spoon, haphazardly but she held it. All the while, I would say “It’ll be easier when…” Had I known how easy I had it, perhaps I wouldn’t have said it so much. I was not to know that toddlers were picky eaters who would gladly live on tomato pasta and beans for eternity while we worried about nutrition and vitamins. That I would constantly be giving her water and encouraging her to drink for fear of dehydration. But wouldn’t it be easier when meals were proper and full and she would graciously eat every spoonful by herself?
She started crawling and schooching around at nine months old and walking properly with wobbles around her first birthday. And again I reiterated “It’ll be easier when…” Not knowing that running toddlers fell more than they slept and gathered bruises like stickers. That walking meant exploring and everything valuable or breakable would be hidden away up high to gather dust. “It’ll be easier when” of course rang through my mind before I realised that bookcases make the perfect ladders and all toddlers are expert climbers… they’re not.
Soon, she was chatting and choosing. Deciding what she wanted to eat, drink, play with, without me interjecting or changing her mind. She would choose the dress she wanted to wear with her bright pink wellies and her paw patrol umbrella. Her independence was becoming paramount as she skipped on past her second birthday and learnt “No” and “I want that one” as I would say “It’ll be easier when…” Little did I know that baby giggles would be replaced with tantrums and determined personalities. Little did I know that a battle of wills would be a daily occurrence as we are both strong fierce women.
But it’s all ok because “It’ll be easier when…”
There are days I feel as though I am rushing my baby to grow up. “I can’t wait until she can walk, for when she’s talking in full sentences and when she can dress herself.” And suddenly, there she is, grown up, independent, and choosing someone else instead of me. Four years old and closer to going to school than being the baby who nestled in my arms, so small and fragile.
Our baby has grown up and had I let go of “It’ll be easier when…” I’d have realised that it’s always been easy. Easy to watch and learn as my baby held a keen eye and soaked everything up. Easy to remember that the baby days can be long and tiring but they are short and sweet. Easy to see that the toddler, who climbs your back and pokes your ribs as you desperately try to make dinner after a long day at work, is learning and thriving and happy.
No, I’m not saying that when I look back on life that the last four years have been easy, because lord knows they haven’t been. But I should have stopped for a moment and realised that no matter how much easier I thought life would be as our child grows up, life will always throw us challenges. Every day we are learning, as parents, how to keep the days going.
Four years ago this parenting journey started. A journey I am loving. A journey I never want to end. It’ll be easier when I realise that parenting is not easy but it’s very rewarding in all of its mad and stressful days.