It's the simple things that make me happy; spending time with my partner and spending time with my children. It's not that often that I get to see my oldest three babies, and rarely all together so I really have to make the most of it when I do.
Daughter number one and daughter number two came over the other day (daughter number three is away at university), and some funny thoughts ran through my head as I watched them interacting with one another. The first was that they're now older than I was when I gave birth to them. I couldn't imagine them having their own children; they're just not old enough! The second thought was how we've kind of come full circle. My eldest, Laura was too young to remember life before Rebecca, so from the moment they were a two, they really were inseparable.
Photo credit: Author's own
They stayed that way for a good few years, sharing literally everything. Although Rebecca was an average size for her age, Laura struggled to put on weight, and for a long time they were the same weight, the same height and more often than not mistaken for twins. I sometimes worry that I robbed them of their own identities in their infant years, as for Christmas I would buy them joint presents, their bedroom drawers were filled with shared and/or matching clothes (even down to their underwear), and they played with shared friends. When they were two and three, they even shared an imaginary friend - 'Naughty Lullie' (don't ask, I haven't got a clue where that name came from) was responsible for all manner of mischief and devilish behaviour!
Laura hated to be anywhere without her sister and although Rebecca could more than capably function solo, Laura's struggle became abundantly clear when she started school. I remember taking her on that first morning, and leaving the playground in a flood of tears; my eldest baby, who'd barely been away from me in her short little life had bravely gone into her new classroom, carrying a school bag that was almost as big as she was. I hadn't been prepared for how it would affect me, as I'd been so wrapped up in worrying that she would have to be peeled from me, kicking and screaming. But as the days went by, Laura's realisation that Rebecca would be at home with me while she was at school took its toll and she started to cry, every single morning, tugging equally at my hand and my heartstrings when it was time to say goodbye. This went on for months. It drained the bloody life out of me!
After what seemed like an age, Laura made some friends, and her new friendship groups for the first time in her life didn't include her sister. She found her own way, playing her own games and at home she began to tire of having to share her belongings and her time with Rebecca. That was when the small crack in their once shared life path opened like a chasm. The years that followed were filled with sibling rivalries, squabbles and arguments; I have no doubt that they loved each other, but sadly they wholly disliked each other. I can never remember a time when they physically fought, but there were some humdingers of arguments, where I would scream at the pair of them like a banshee, and send them off in different directions to cool off.
The usual trials and tribulations of teenage years ensued, but thankfully both of them excelled at school, and both eventually left home for university and successfully graduated in 2015 and 2016 respectively. They've had their struggles along the way, what teenager or young adult doesn't? There have been times when my heart has physically hurt for them, when they've called me in tears because they're homesick, or poorly, they've had an argument with somebody, or are just generally pissed off. That's the thing about being a mum. You're never off duty. Ever. Neither would I want to be.
Now, as I look at my two beautiful girls, I see the love and admiration they have for one another. My heart brims over with love, joy and pride for them when I think about their achievements; how these two perfect creations of mine are out in the world, making their mark, developing their careers, and forging the pathways of their lives. Those pathways are unquestionably headed in completely different directions, but now and again, like the other day, they run side by side, parallel to one another and the years melt away; they not only love each other, but they like each other. And I have my two inseparable little girls back.
My name is Jane. Proud Mumma to Laura, aged 4 (+20) and Rebecca, aged 3 (+20).