Since becoming a parent I’ve been acutely aware of the passing of time. When you have a small person growing before your eyes you have this constant reminder of the transience of things. Tiny hands and tiny nails growing bigger with every passing day, to a distant tick, tick, tick. Strangers telling you, “Make the most of it – they don’t stay small for long,” as you battle through tantrums. Even the most grim of parenting moments seems to be a reminder that nothing is forever.
I remember, in technicolour detail, folding my daughter’s outgrown newborn clothes and putting them away safely in a box to be stored in the loft. I cried as I did it, a mixture of raging hormones, sleep deprivation and the dawning realisation that time was passing too quickly.
I would cuddle my newborn tightly in my arms in cafes, sniffing in that new baby scent – a mixture of milk and magic baby perfume – and feel secretly sorry for mums cradling a bigger baby. My baby was still tiny, I was behind them. I still had all this time to enjoy.
And then the daily desperation to hold on to the slipping sands sort of faded. As the physical changes in my baby girl slowed down, so too did the incessant reminders that she was growing. It all became more gradual in a way, until we’d be surprised by a first word or a newly acquired skill like clapping or pointing. And then it would be a cause of celebration, rather than a moment to mourn the loss of time.
As the firsts rolled in – smiles, steps, Christmases, toes in the sea – that tick, tick, tick was drowned out by life. We were too busy enjoying, battling, LIVING to notice how quickly time was passing us by. Until a last – and then we’d be hit BOOM with that realisation of what had gone.
When we relocated from Berkshire to Devon last summer I spent much of the month prior to our move in a state of lost limbo. Every day would be a last. A last trip to our favourite pub. A last cup of tea in my friend’s garden. A last day at nursery. It was a long goodbye – and I’ve never been very good at goodbyes. I get emotional and sentimental and nostalgic, forgetting the bad bits and viewing the past through a rosy haze. Like an Instagram filter that skews the real life and makes the ugly bits pretty.
And so, this time, I’m choosing not to focus on the lasts, but to enjoy the idea of the firsts instead.
Tomorrow will be my daughter’s last day at pre-school. The place that has been fundamental in our feeling content and settled in our new home in Devon. The source of new friendships, new skills and many, many happy memories.
But the last day of pre-school means the first day of the summer holidays. The first day of a summer spent by the sea, scrambling around on Dartmoor, rock-pooling in Cornwall, visiting beloved family up north, seeing wonderful friends get married, making plans and painting walls in the first ever home we can say is truly ours.
It’s our last summer as a family of three. The unit we’ve grown so used to over the past four years, full of shared experiences, memories and “in” jokes. But after the summer comes the autumn, when we’ll be a family of four, with a whole lifetime of new memories waiting to be made.
With every last there is a first. And the firsts are just as worth celebrating as the lasts, in my book.
(PS. I may not feel this way as I collect my daughter from her last pre-school session tomorrow, a blubbering, pregnant, hormonal wreck.)
Ghislaine Forbes says
Love the swimming costume! Can’t wait to see little F’s pic on FIRST DAY at school , wearing THAT TIE!! Make the most of the school summer holiday, it’s brilliant to have the time together as a family,love ma x
We’ve got to learn how to tie the tie first! Love you Mum xxx
What a lovely post. What a great change of perspective to celebrate the firsts instead of mourning the lasts. It’s funny how specific events draw your attention to time in a panic-inducing way. I HATED my 30th birthday. Irrationally, I saw it as the day I left my fun, carefree 20’s behind and had to start being more sensible. Never mind the fact that every single day of my life I’ve steadily been getting older – this specific day was the one that got all of my negative attention.
If I’d just thought of it as my first ever opportunity to live in my 30’s, everything might have been better and would have been less of a party pooper. You’ve really made me think. Thank you 🙂
Ah thank you for your lovely comment. I felt the same in the build-up towards my 30th birthday, which is madness really because 30 has been an amazing year for me! x
beautiful beautiful post. Erin’s last day at nursery tomorrow and I am ready to blub! She has been through so much all before school starts. Our two girls are troopers and here is to all their next ‘firsts’.
They really are. And very funny too. xx
Adele @ Circus Queen says
This is a lovely post, Molly. And so true. I must admit, I have a tendency to obsess over the future so I’m really enjoying this post’s call to live in present. I can’t believe how quickly it’s all going! Ophelia’s just started sitting up and that fact has me near tears (I’m obviously still hormonal too!). Hope you really enjoy your summer holidays.
Thanks Adele – I have been the same in the past, fixating on the future and worrying a bit. It’s nice to step back and appreciate the moment a bit more these days. x
Ruth (geekmummy) says
It’s my son’s last day at pre-school tomorrow. I am already a blubbering hormonal wreck about it.
Well that makes me feel better – at least I’m not the only one! x