When you have two girls eleven years apart you can't help noticing how quickly life whizzes by.
I look at Dolly, clapping, waving and staggering a couple of unsteady steps (these are her only three party tricks) and I have flashbacks of her older sister, Flo, as clear as yesterday. The baby is a daily, noisy reminder of how fast the years have passed, and it makes me want to put out a great big 'Stop' sign reading: 'Growth will resume shortly. (But only when I've got my head around it.)'
That Abba song in Mamma Mia sums it up perfectly, and always leaves me sobbing into the sofa cushions. My oldest daughter is slipping through my fingers fast, rushing towards independence. And like the sand in an egg timer the whole process seems to be quickening up just when I want it to slow down.
She starts senior school on Monday and right now her world is consumed by whether she should get a side parting, how long she'll have to wait before her ears can be pierced and what bag is cool enough for year seven.
In a way she's not so different from her baby sister right now – one hand clutching something secure to keep her steady as she steps away to explore the world. I'll still be there to pick her up when she falls, if she lets me. And hopefully cuddles and chocolate buttons will still do the trick.
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