The passing of time

Time is a funny thing when you have children. One minute you're wishing it away and counting down the hours until bedtime after a particularly tantrummy day. The next you're willing it to slow down. To hold onto those special moments for just a little bit longer; to freeze frame them and replay them over and over again.

During my maternity leave I lost all concept of time. There were no hours or days or weeks. Just feeding times. Days and nights that merged into one, long, consecutive haze of bottles, naps and 3pm baths. I'd determine what time of day it was by what was on TV, often surprised to find that it must be the weekend because Jeremy Kyle wasn't on. Our time passed gradually, sleepily and quietly as we got to know each other. There was no pressure to be anywhere or do anything. I remember we spent a lot of time in the house and we were nearly always together.

But when Jack was nine months old it was time for me to go back to work (part time) and he started spending Mondays with my mum and Tuesdays/Wednesday mornings at nursery. Although we had to adjust to being apart a bit more, it meant that we got some structure back in our lives and time had some meaning again. I remember picking him up from nursery on a Wednesday lunchtime and sometimes feeling a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of four and a half full days stretching out ahead of us in which I'd be expected to find ways to occupy this rapidly growing, demanding baby who wasn't really a baby anymore. It felt like a lifetime and it wore me out. Sometimes I was actually quite relieved when Monday came back around. So despite working, we still seemed to have a lot of time together.

When he turned two and a half he started going to pre-school on a Friday morning because I wanted him to get to know the children he'd eventually be going to school with. It meant that I had three whole hours to myself! What would I do with all of this me time?! The possibilities were endless! And it was only one morning a week so we'd still get lots of time together.

Recently when I went to an open afternoon at the pre-school his key person mentioned that she thought he might benefit from going there an extra morning a week. So from September it's been arranged that he'll be going to pre-school on a Thursday morning too. Around the same time, his dad got settled in a new house and is eager to start having overnight access every other weekend. So that means Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I'll be at work. Thursday and Friday mornings he'll be at pre-school. And every other weekend he'll stay overnight with his dad. Very suddenly it feels as if my time with him has decreased a lot. And the time we do have has to fit around a regimented schedule which is a far cry from the early days of lazy togetherness where days passed by without us even noticing.

At one point I would have revelled in all of this 'me' time. I'd have been excited at the thought of the things I could do with it. But now it's actually going to happen I can't help but think of the things I won't be able to do with my son anymore. No more lazy Thursdays - the only day of the week where we have nowhere to be and nothing to do so we can (and quite often do) stay in our pjs til dinner time. No more morning Tesco trips together where he ALWAYS falls asleep in obscure positions in the trolley and passing shoppers ALWAYS coo, making comments like 'he must find shopping as dull as I do' and I chuckle politely like I haven't heard it a million times before. No more taking for granted that we can attend every single party or play date because he might be at school or with his dad. Things have to be worked around. He has engagements to keep. Engagements that don't include me.

And of course I know this is how it should be. This is just a natural part of him growing up. But suddenly all of those cliches I used to eye-roll at like 'they don't stay babies for long' and 'cherish every moment' have taken on a whole new meaning. A meaning that I expect I'll be confronted with at every stage of his life at which he moves further away from me - school, uni, moving out, marriage *sobs uncontrollably*

So I guess what I'm saying is that if you are in the midst of maternity leave or the terrible twos and feel like there's no end in sight, don't worry. It will come around quickly. And believe it or not you might actually find yourself pining for the sleepless nights and the tantrums and the time they were just there. With you.

1 comment:

  1. Such a lovely post. I have just started to put my daughter into nursery a couple of mornings a week as working from home and looking after a toddler just weren't working out but I already find myself pining for her return as soon as I've left her even though I have counted down the seconds until I could drop her off! thanks for sharing xx #mummymonday