Much of my life I dreamed of meeting ‘my’ child,
gazing into a tiny face and seeing a version of myself made new,
mistakes undone, innocence restored.
But a life isn’t a second chance
and it’s only a blank canvas for an artist not yet bloomed.
It’s a fallacy that the children we raise are ‘ours’;
They belong to us no more than the stars in the sky,
and like stars we can love and cherish them
– we can even cry for them –
but to think we can own them is to think
a grain of sand can own the earth.
Perhaps it is the other way round and
we are beholden to the stars,
and what we mask with ownership
is in fact gratitude that they shine on us,
and fear because we so rarely
feel worthy of them.
Life has been ticking by nicely for us. The days get easier as both boys grow, and I frequently feel guilty for that, as though I’m inadvertently wishing the time away just by appreciating the changes. Guilt is my biggest struggle, I think.
When Tristan was the same age as Leo, I wondered whether I’d allowed his babyhood to pass me by while I fretted about developmental milestones and parenting by the book (whatever book that was). It all happened so fast that I didn’t have time to take in every scent of it. I promised myself it’d be different the second time round, and with no post-natal depression I initially thought I was in with a good chance.
But the first time wasn’t a fluke. It really does disappear that quickly, and now that I know for sure, I feel more at peace with it. And perhaps that’s why I’m content to stop at two children. The baby months still flew out of my fingers like confetti but I know I lived them and enjoyed them with every part of me.
And at least this confetti will stay on the wind for as long as I remember it.
Where I am now is in between my life with babies and my life with two little boys who will become two young men. With me is my best friend and husband, and we’re changing together too. I hardly recognise us from even just a year ago, and it’s a wonderful change.
And I’m different too. I can feel it deep down, a stoicism and determination to get started on the next chapter. I think that’s why I haven’t written much; I don’t know where I’m going! I’ve had my children, the only goal I’ve ever really had – maybe it’s time to ask myself where my next step will be.