The mourning of the baby years

I've been feeling this growing sense of sadness over the past few months. It's like a weight on my chest. Yes things have been stressful around here of late but I guess sometimes your emotions have a funny way of catching you out. I've tried to speak about it with a few people but it just catches me out, the sadness threatening to overspill and I have to stop.

It's a strange sadness, a mourning almost, it's happy but nostalgic. It's a sense of loss but of losing something that is still there right in front of you, not quite gone but never coming back. My heart has been aching for all those years that have sped by so unforgivingly, to be left with rose tinted memories and cherished moments. I feel guilty when I admit this, but I miss the time of me and him.

I don't ever wish that Rohan wasn't here with us, part of our family and so dear, my love for him is untainted by these feelings and the joy of him being here outweighs these feelings of sadness. But those emotions are here all the same.

I just found myself searching through old photographs and hot tears fell down my cheeks, as I scrolled through each photo it feeling as quick as the years passing themselves, Theo's childhood flashing before my eyes and me failing to keep up. I feel we're on the cusp of a big change, the next cycle and the true goodbye to those innocent years of childhood. Already I can see other people starting to weave their way into his being; his language, his thoughts, his influences. I feel each day a subtle change, and whilst I admire his independence and in-take of his world, soaking up information and forming his own ideas, I feel my own influence waning. I miss those years where he was just mine.

I know that you can never own a child, they are yours only to guide, not to control. He is, and always has been his own person in his own right but I feel like I'm handing some of that responsibility over and I'm not ready. I'm not ready for our special bond to be widened, even though it already has. He will always be my first born, the one who changed me and whilst I know that will never change, I know too now how quickly it slips through your fingers. It makes me fear for the future, for blinking and another five years has been and gone and left a new person in it's wake. Time is cruel and forever the saying "the days are long but the years are short" plays through my head. I know looking back it's easy to think how easy it was, how joyous the days were when I know that in truth it wasn't.

I didn't find it easy and I didn't enjoy it all, but now I long to step back in time, to spend one more day with a baby Theo, a two, three, four year old. To have his little hand creep into mine, to spend the afternoon curled together on the sofa watching another Thomas the tank engine and him squeal out the names of his favourite trains, to pack up a bag and head out for an adventure lasting all day, to watch him learn to leap without fear off objects onto the bed or into our arms. I miss the baby giggles and the big open mouth kisses. I miss the feel of his little body curled against mine as we co slept, I miss just having my little side-kick, my friend and the time of just me and him.

I love Theo now in all his growing up glory, his new adult teeth, his reading, his excitement for new crazes, his ideas. But now I know that this too will feel so long ago so soon. I feel torn when encouraging him to do things for himself, with the knowledge that he won't need me for all those little things anymore, it's like I've become to conscious of time passing and I'm clutching at moments before they too have passed to just memories. I don't want to go on like this, scared for change and the future. I can't wait to see him grow further, to experience all that comes with an older child and to carry on watching him bloom as an older brother. I don't know why just now this has all crept up on me, this feeling of loss and grief. Maybe I will always feel like this, my baby, my first, that attachment never quite lessening. I know he still needs me now, and I try my hardest to be there for him in return.

The other day we were chatting and he told me that sometimes he feels like I don't have as much time to do things with him because I am with Rohan, and whilst my heart broke I told him that we were so lucky that we had five years together just us, and Rohan will always have to share me. He then said like your love, we have to share your love. So I explained (whilst we were eating an Easter egg) that when Rohan was born my love for Rohan didn't split his easter egg in half, to be shared, that in fact Rohan has a whole new Easter egg, and Theo's remained intact. Both the same.  I hope he knows how much I love him, how much I cherish those years we had and how much I want to give more time to him now if I had it. I am trying to be present for him, to make more time to play a game one on one or chat because I know, even if it's for five or ten minutes, that it makes a difference. To us both.

I know too that I have another chance to experience childhood again through Rohan, however different it may be. Life with Rohan seems to be going in slow motion too, I get to keep him as my baby for a little longer.

Agh motherhood, why are you so bittersweet, so full of absolute joy that in turn, one day will make you feel wretched all over again.

The days are long, but the years are short. Don't I know it.


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