I called a friend a few days ago to catch up on a few things and found her super busy with her three little ones, all under the age of five. It kind of stopped me in my tracks. I remember when I had three under five and it seems like such a long time ago. A few of my friends have small children and a few have two or three very small children. It can be hard work – long sleepless nights, endless nappies, dragging that big baby-bag everywhere, trying to navigate public transport and shops with a big buggy, having to plan ahead just to try and get a moment to go to the loo. But now that I look back, it seems it was over so quickly.
I reassured my friend. I remember when I had my youngest I had a good dose of the baby blues and did not want to get up or do anything, let alone be a mum. I remember yearning for a whole night of sleep and finding all of the things I was supposed to do – reading with the kids, playing with them, taking them to the park, so tedious. I would never have admitted it then for fear of being judged, but actually, looking after small kids can be tedious. The beautiful, unforgettable moments with your little ones – the first words, the funny little things they do, those moments when your heart brims over from love, these things make being a mum pleasurable and help temper the tedium, but the boring moments are still there.
Thing is, it’s all over so quickly. My youngest is five, all three are at school full time, they can eat themselves, dress themselves (although Gorgeous still tries to abdicate responsibility for these two – always the baby). They can go off unsupervised for some time to play outside or in their room. But that’s not what made the biggest difference to me. Kids just get so much more interesting as they get older. They have a life – at school, with friends, at madrassah, in their bedrooms, even in their heads. They have thoughts and opinions. They can tell you about their day (with much prompting) and are interested in yours (mostly to say how unfair it is you don’t have to go to school).
I realised recently, how much I enjoyed parenting, which was not always the case before. I realised how I am falling in love with my kids in all sorts of new ways. I love that their own personalities and strengths are coming through – Little Lady’s bossiness, creativity and dodgy jokes, Little Man’s kindness and studiousness and Gorgeous’ charm, playfulness and sportiness. I never would have guessed parenting would be so much more fun.
So to my sisters who are just getting through the day, one day at a time, I have to say, these days when your children are so small will be over so quickly. Spend them to hold your babies, hug them, kiss them, tell them you love them till they have no doubts. Let the house get messy, leave your hair wild, soon they will be leaving you every morning and you will have all the time in the world to straighten cushions and look perfect. Also this – that parenting gets even better, lots easier and so much more fun. I never expected this at all, but I am so enjoying this time with my kids. Perhaps I am speaking too soon, maybe they will hit the teen years and turn into indecipherable, irrational monsters, in which case I had better make the most of this time Inshaa’Allah!