My best friend's Mum told me a while ago, "You only have your kids until they are about ten. Then they go; off seeing friends, having their own lives and before you know it they are off to Uni. It sure goes quick."
At the time I think my daughter was 1, my son 5. Days were fairly exhausting, life was all about routine and endlessly trying to entertain them. I kind of wished the years away. Which is funny, because now I'd like to slow them all down.
We've been away in York for a week and husband swears that our Sproglette has changed in that time. She's had her fringe cut, started making silly faces in photos and was obsessed about finding yellow bikes dotted all around York in celebration of the Tour de France having passed through a few weeks back. She's excited about starting school nursery in September and is demanding a party in December when she is 4, but wants to invite only boys.
All the endless opinions and questions she throws out; she is suddenly more than ever, her own little person. 3 for me is the age that kids are at their cutest - still a smidgeon of baby face in them, funny phrases trotting out their mouths and they still break out into dances no matter where they are. They've yet to feel judgement, or coldness or censorship. They just are. Sproglet at 8, is much more aware of himself now - happy (thank god) to kiss me and hug me still - but not so much in front of all his school buddies. He thinks One Direction are rubbish and is football crazy. He has a growing sense of what he deems cool, what isn't. He has yet to care about his clothes or hair that much and I'm hoping vanity won't feature for a few years yet.
More than ever, I'm digging time spent with them. All too aware that the sand in the timer keeps falling and every step they take is one further away from me. Don't get me wrong, I still love ME time - what little of it I get, especially in the school hols - but when I'm with them, I'm really focused on the time I'm spending - not thinking ahead, not fretting about work or money - just being. It's doing my head all sorts of good. This year has been one of my finest - for no major, significant reasons - more lots of little ones: I've been invited along on 3 different friends' holidays, seen Prince, been offered two jobs I never would have expected and have thrown myself into a career change that has made me excited and nervous - both good things. Plus, I finally wrote my Dad a long overdue letter in the hope of healing our fractured relationship and the upshot is that he is coming over to stay from Ireland, in September - his first visit in my 23 years living in England.
On bad days I'll wander around my house wishing I had the money to repaint the hall, or fix the broken tile that has been chipped for 6 years in our dining room; I'll wonder why I don't have things all worked out just yet (fingers in pies, but pies not quite cooked), I'll hanker after that bigger house, bigger garden, flatter stomach... But on good days - and there are more of these than ever - like today when a spontaneous ice cream meet up with a mate and his son meant Sproglet and I learnt how to loom (important skill I assure you - and if you don't know what it is - be thankful!) and Sproglette and I walked in the rain laughing and Husband built me a fan for our bedroom - the mundane moments bring unbridled joy. Perhaps because, as my friend's mum said, this time will pass. They will grow and leave me, so I had better enjoy it all while I have it.
One day, they will be gone.