Why I Don't Regret Wishing Away The Baby Years

14/08/2014 16:56 | Updated 22 May 2015

Tired mother

It is a common refrain when you are pushing your new baby around, grey with sleep deprivation, your clothes coated in milky dribble and your hair unwashed for what seems like weeks, that some old lady will stop you and say "Don't forget to enjoy these years, they grow up before you know it".

How I wanted to retort, "Thank goodness for that, if my child stayed a mute, eating, pooing and sleep torture device for the rest of his life I fear I might throw us both under a bus". You have to understand I was hysterical with exhaustion, but you get the point.

When you are dragging yourself through the days of new motherhood, all you want is to hit those targets like him sleeping through the night, moving onto solids, chucking out the nappies and being able to go to the loo uninterrupted, as soon as humanly possible. The last thing I was doing was savouring every moment.

When my eldest was a newborn I found him rather dull. He did nothing but, eat, sleep and scream. It was fun to cuddle him for a bit, but there wasn't really any interaction. I think that is part of what made those early months so tough.

I thought babies came out like the ones I saw in the Pampers ads on TV, gurgling, smiling, giggling and sitting up. Little did I know that doesn't even begin to happen until they are around three months old. My newborn simply gave me a dark stare that left me slightly unnerved.

I do remember his first gummy smile when we were doing one of those evil 2am feeds. All I wanted was to be back in my bed, fast asleep, not sitting in a nursery trying to persuade him to finish his bottle, but then he looked up and gave me a gummy smile and I think that was the moment I properly fell in love.

But for all those milestone moments there were days filled with the drudgery of nappy changes, feeding every few hours, washing endless babygros all without a word of adult conversation. Some weeks I would hardly leave the house as I simply couldn't face the hassle of getting us all dressed and ready to go out, only for it to be time for a feed or for him to fill his nappy. It just didn't seem worth it, perhaps because I was perpetually exhausted from all those night feeds.

I do accept that little children are cute, but they are also incredibly hard work, demanding and deeply unreasonable. In fact I think many parents of little ones would agree that they are at their most beautiful and loveable when they are asleep.

As I fervently wished away those early years with all my four boys, I did wonder if perhaps I would live to regret this. Was I really missing out by just wanting to get through those pre-school years and out the other side as fast as possible?

I remember my son's great grandmother watching him play in the garden as a toddler and musing over when children were no longer sweet. She concluded around the age of eight. At the time I was devastated, I was sure I would always think my boy was sweet, in fact I had a sneaking suspicion I might even prefer him when he was eight.

And do you know what? I did. My eldest is now 10 and, while the teenage sulks have already begun to materialise, he is the best company. He is funny, argumentative, charming, clever and witty. Same goes for his younger brother who is eight. Sure he is no longer cute, but he can wipe his own bottom, eat his own food and tells a mean joke and I find that far more loveable than a toddler waddling around in a nappy.

As for the twins, now that they have started school and their teacher has to manage their intractable nature and objection to doing anything they are told for the inside of the day our relationship has improved no end.

Now I worry that when the time comes for them to leave home it will coincide with them becoming the most loveable and fascinating people I have ever known. So now I do savour every moment that my growing boys want to spend time with me, as I suspect that this phase of life will pass far faster than I would like.

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