My kids are cute. No, I mean really, really, heartbreakingly, deliciously cute. They’re all snuggly and squidgy and perfect. Even when they have snot dried on their faces.
Unfortunately, in terms of cute snuggly-wuggliness, they’re on borrowed time. They won’t always be this little and yummy, and one day they’ll be all grown up. Of course, being a bit of an absent-minded fuckwit, I’m always forgetting this salient fact. Thankfully I have a team of experts on hand to remind me on a daily basis.
The experts say things like:
They grow up fast – make the most of it!
They won’t be like this forever – make sure you’re not missing out!
They’re well cute now, but by the time they’re teenagers they’ll probably want to slit your throat!
etc. etc. etc.
It’s useful to be reminded of this. Otherwise I’d no doubt still be attempting to force their toddler-sized arms and legs into “tiny baby” sleepsuits, before firing off letters of complaint to Mothercare. All the same, this “growing” business makes me a little bit sad. Sometimes I wish it didn’t happen at all.
There are times when I’m holding my little ones when I desperately want to preserve them just as they are. In ten years’ time they’ll be different people, and I can’t possibly imagine anyone being as wonderful as they are now. It’s a constant process of loss and I can’t do anything to stop it. Yet at the same time I know deep down I’ll always find them fantastic and I’d be failing them if I couldn’t let them go.
I know also that they’ll suffer pain, lots of it, in future, and that’s just part of being human and I won’t always be able to prevent it. I know, or at least hope, that they’ll get old like me. I know that one day they’ll have to face death. And frankly, I’d rather not think about this shit because they’re my children and they’re bloody ace and deserve better than the sodding human condition.
So all in all, I’d rather not think about the whole “getting bigger” malarkey. Still, it’s useful that the experts keep reminding me, otherwise I’d be a crap mother insofar as I’d forget to feel guilty all the time. Thankfully that’s not the case. Yes, dear experts, I feel guilty. I feel really, really guilty. All the sodding time.
I feel guilty for not taking enough photos and videos of them, for taking too many for me to be able to archive, for not being able to see any moment of joy on their faces without thinking “I ought to get a picture of that”. I feel guilty for not being absorbed in their play, for thinking about other things when I’m meant to be lost in their world (“only boring people find children boring” [my auntie, 2009] – year, well, auntie, just call me Rachel Cusk). I feel guilty for working, for putting them in nursery so I can piss off out to earn money to spend on food and the mortgage and yet more bloody shoes (see earlier post), all the while missing out on all those precious milestones. In short, I feel guilty as hell but will of course wear this badge of authentic motherhood with pride.
So experts, I salute you. Fuck living in the moment. The truth is, without you and all the guilt-trips I’m nothing.