In six months my first son, Arjun, will turn five.
We have just planed his birthday party. I am being very organised because after five years of parties I have learnt that you need to be.
However, while I may be ready for his party I am definitely not ready for him to be five.
It feels like yesterday I had a curly haired toddler in a nappy with that sticky outing tummy and cheeky grin. And then someone sprinkled fairy dust and it seems like overnight I now have a fiercely determined, lean, near five year old with a undercut hair style.
His cheeky grin is still very much there but the emotional outbursts that were so rampant in his younger toddler years are now replaced with an emotional maturity that at times wish I had. The ability to ask for his own space, take himself outside and punch pillows when he is very cross (something we have encouraged him to do). Do not get me wrong, toddlers are toddlers and while we still have some tantrums but they are becoming few and far between.
Of course it didn’t happen overnight. I am not yet out of the trenches of sleep deprivation, so I have not forgotten those nights that just never seem to end, the fatigue, the feeding battles or the constants juggle of life. But I know I am starting to emerge out of this fog.
It was Christmas when this first really stood out to me. We brought Arjun a skateboard, something he had been asking for. He was so proud to be like ‘the big boys’. We took him the same day to a skate park and tried this out – initially sitting on the board and then attempting to stand on it…which as with learning any new skill was not without some frustration, falling over and getting annoyed at his helmet!
While I watched the older children doing all sorts of crazy flips and twists and turns my heart jolted every time I tried to imagine my son doing this. I want him to be that baby snuggled into me, feeding him a bottle and rocking him to sleep. But I know that’s in the past now…he is getting his wings….he is getting ready to fly.
The next phase of parenting is upon me. The phase where I need to let him go, let him fall and to guide him how to get back up again.
The phase where he really discovers the things he likes and dislikes, makes friends and loses friends, takes risks and develops the mental muscle of resilience.
It’s where at times I have to firmly yet lovingly teach him right from wrong and be there when he gets frustrated with himself.
Like so many phases of parenting that I have experienced, I feel so grossly unequipped for this. What if I stuff it up? What if I am too hard or too soft or just not enough?
And school. How do I adequately preparing for him to go to school all that change will bring?
Those newborn days, I just wanted to go so quickly, just wanted to not wake up at night so badly and now that he is actually getting his independence I want to rewind them. Not repeat them all over again, but maybe just for a day just to feel that again.
You know, that moment where somewhere in the dark of the night when you are so tired you feel like your bones might break from fatigue yet somehow you are just everything to this little person and they likewise cling to you and the world seems to stop, suspended in time.
In the last few weeks, he has developed this habit of coming in beside me in bed at about 5am and having a cuddle, I have welcomed this. One, as I am too tired to actually get up, but also because I know it won’t last forever. Somehow this is just what he needs right now and I am holding on to it while I can, pretending for a little while longer that he’s still my baby.
And I can wait a little longer for him to fully have his wings.
xxx Dr Julie Bhosale