As parents, we are, quite understandably, fixated on our child’s firsts. First tooth, first foods, first steps, first words… These are such exciting milestones, and, let’s face it, when we’ve had a day which has involved nothing more than whinging, crying and nappy changing, they are what makes it all worthwhile and pulls us through! But when do these things become the lasts?
When do we suddenly realise that this is the last time we’ll carry them in the sling? The last time that they’ll let us feed them, so independent that they can now feed themselves? The last time that we’ll use the baby change bag? All little insignificant things in themselves, but they club together to make the weeks – or indeed, the years – of lasts.
When Baby Lighty was a year old, I distinctly remember suddenly thinking when, “when did I stop winding him?” Baby Lighty was a reflux baby, and so we always winded him religiously after a feed. And then one day…it must have been the last time that we’d done so, and we hadn’t even noticed it. Again, another insignificant aspect of parenthood. But when do we get to the stage where it’s the last time that we pick them up? The last time they cuddle up on our lap to watch a film or read a book? The last time they want us to tuck them into bed at night? I hope, with all my heart, that I have years before these lasts are suddenly upon us.
In recent weeks, I’ve been feeling these lasts more and more. Why? Because, as I sit and write this, it’s just a few short weeks before Baby Lighty starts preschool. And I’ve never felt such loss of times gone by so badly.
It’s no doubt common knowledge that Mrs Lighty isn’t a natural at motherhood. When I wrote about the end of my maternity leave, I lamented some lasts, even back then. I felt like I’d wasted my time off with Baby Lighty, and hadn’t treasured those newborn days. PND still very much makes me feel like this, and I’m still really envious of people just starting out on their parenting journey, as I feel like if I had my time again, I could do this whole motherhood thing so much better.
I got lucky. I got a new job, which allowed me the perfect work-life balance, and meant that I could spend large chunks of my week at home with my baby – now toddler – and still work, due to my flexible company. And now, we are on the verge of preschool, we’re on the verge of my doing extra days at work, and once again, I’m transported back to Baby Lighty being nine months old, to my return to work, to not feeling like I’ve cherished this time with him.
It feels like we’ve had weeks and weeks of lasts in the Lighty household recently. Last time I’d take Baby Lighty to our Thursday baby group. Last time I’d go to the theatre workshop, which we’ve only just discovered and fallen in love with. And – quite distressingly for me personally – possibly the last time I carried Baby Lighty in the sling. Whether the last point is a last or not, remains to be seen (cross everything for me that I’m wrong!), but I feel like this summer, I’ve been on countdown.
Last Thursday with him before his preschool settling in sessions.
The last time we’ll see certain friends during the week.
Our last lazy morning at home with no rushing about.
Of course, there will probably be room for some of these things in the future. And we’ve really, really made the most of our summer off together, with plenty of playdates, plenty of sensory and messy play activities, baking galore (Baby Lighty’s favourite!) and a few lovely outings thrown in for good measure, too. I’m also, maybe selfishly, super excited to be able to work more, not to mention work like a normal person, in the office, not snatching an hour here or there. But despite all this? Right now, my heart is heavy.
Those weeks of lasts, they sure do creep up on you. I’m going to miss my weekdays with Baby Lighty, and I’m going to cherish my weekends and Mondays off with him. That’s a promise, Baby Lighty (first stop – seeing The Incredibles on the ‘big TV’ as you wanted to do!). For the past three years, three months, I’ve had my little tiny companion at my side, more recently chatting away nineteen to the dozen, and now I’ve got to hand you over to the big wide world of preschool.
Because that’s the thing about the weeks of lasts. They are lasts, and they are a little sad…but they are also the start of a new chapter, a new adventure. And the thing that really gets me through these weeks of lasts, is that I know in my heart of hearts that you and I are going to just love the new set of firsts ahead, little boy!