There is no doubt about it, raising a second born is undoubtedly different to raising a first born. When child number one is born the whole experience is new, exciting, daunting. They are your top priority and life, like it or not, revolves around them. When number two is born you simply cannot give your second the same amount of attention. when little O arrived the life I had created with S, my eldest, didn’t just stop, I couldn’t put it on hold. Feeding time had to fit in with school runs. That often meant little O was shoved in the carrier with a boob in her mouth as I power walked through town, but somehow we got on with it. Gone were the glory days of hours of quiet feeds, endless baby groups and infant massage. We managed a few things, but just so long as they slotted in around the routine of S.
As little O grew it became clear that her favourite thing to do was nap on Mummy. I expect this was because she had to do so much of it in her early days- siestas in the carrier around supermarkets, on my shoulder during special assemblies and on my knee through sporting occasions. By the time she had dropped to one nap a day it was very much snuggled up beside me in bed. I have to admit there were times this was a complete tie. Getting the chores done is hard enough with kids around, let alone when you are stuck under a sleeping toddler, but after a while I saw it as what it really was, a blessing.
For ninety minutes a day, this time was ours. My eldest at school, my youngest snuggled safely against my hip. For ninety minutes I could work, tapping away on the laptop, taking teeny glances at my beautiful sleeping angel. Perfect. But then suddenly, just like that, it was gone.
There are so many milestones that come and go when your children are tiny, and often you don’t notice them until they have gone. In the past six months we have seen a few. Potty training being one; you fret about it, stock up for it and worry about it. Suddenly it’s all over and you hadn’t even noticed. I found a discarded (clean!) nappy under the bed yesterday and it occurred to me, after years of nappies it has been months since I changed one. My nappy changing days are over.
While potty training may be one I am pleased to see the back of, I’m not sure I am ready to see the back of nap time. It was engrained in our routine; lunch, nap, school run. Then the holidays began. We were busy, there was no time for snuggles between play dates and trips away. Little O began catching a few Zs in the buggy as we rushed here and there, or in the car. I realised this morning that it’s been a week since she wanted one at all.
I am not generally one for regrets, but thinking about it now, I regret working during our last ‘snuggle’ time. I knew the end of term was upon us, I knew I would have less time for work, and there were things I ‘had’ to get done. But if I had known that was it, then, perhaps I would have left it, just for one day. Instead I would have cuddled up a bit closer, dozed with O in my arms, studied her beautiful, still babyish, features. I would have smiled as she twitched in her sleep, like Daddy does, and smelt the top of her clammy head, always clammy as she insists on having the duvet on even on a warm day.
As a Mum, I am always in a rush. We are told not to take things for granted. To appreciate the little things. I really do try, but there are some things, like our nap time cuddles, that I didn’t really appreciate until they were gone. If you still have little ones that doze on you, give them an extra squeeze, for me. I will hope that just maybe, after a late night perhaps, we will get the chance to have one last mid afternoon snuggle. If we do, I shall put down my laptop, hide my phone, and make the most of every moment, because who knows if I will ever have the chance again.