The end of an era approaches. Soon there won’t be any babies in our house. Because they’ll have both turned into children.
It will happen by degrees, I know because I’ve been there with Billy. In hindsight, we won’t be able to say exactly when Frankie stopped being a baby, but one day in the next few months we’ll wake up and there will be a little boy standing there, asking for his breakfast.
Part of me is looking forward to this, but a large part (an unexpected part) is feeling nostalgic about the early days of being a dad.
Of course, I am a walking cliche. I’m sure every parent goes through this whenever a big change happens, like the youngest starting school.
But in the midst of sleepless nights or silent reflux hell, I never imagined I’d be missing having tiny babies. Quite the opposite, I was desperate for it to end!
So, why is my mind now playing tricks and making me wear this Elton John-sized pair of rose-tinted spectacles?
Why Am I Going To Miss Having A Baby?
Firstly, another cliche, I didn’t think it would pass so quickly. With Billy the baby phase seemed to last forever, but Frankie arriving last spring feels like yesterday. Yet, here he is walking and babbling and playing with his brother’s toys (when he isn’t looking).
I know it flew by the second time because we were even busier, juggling two children under three, and trying to stop Billy baiting his little brother. It’s flown by despite me having been looking after the boys for most of this year, so I’m glad I had this extra precious time with ‘baby Frankie’.
I think one of the hardest things about watching babies turn into children is that it almost feels like they’ve disappeared. You know that the threenager standing in front of you demanding to know why the Marmite is on the wrong side of the toast IS that cute bundle of gurgles you spent ages gazing at and stroking his head to get him to sleep, but it’s hard to make the connection sometimes.
Billy now likes to look at baby photos of himself. He is fascinated by the idea that he was that baby and clearly has no memory of it, which confounds my theory that really little children do recall being babies. “Is that Frankie?” he asks pointing to the blond-haired cherub on my phone. He does look a lot like his brother to be fair.
10 Things I’ll Miss About Having A Baby
- Cuddles. I’m not saying I won’t be cuddling my boys, of course I will, but let’s be honest cuddling a child is nowhere near as satisfying as cuddling a baby. Tiny newborns almost seem too fragile to squeeze so I think peak cuddle is between 3 & 9 months when they’re chunky but still do stuff like tuck their legs in when you pick them up, or lay their head on your shoulder.
- The smell. What? Pooey smell? No. The head smell. The pheromone bomb that goes straight to the most basic part of your brain and floods it with dopamine. When our boys were little babies I could be standing at work and smell them in my nostrils. I don’t mean remember the scent, I mean actually experience it as if they were there in my arms. This smell seems to fade once they get past six months so it must be an evolutionary bonding trick but I wish you could bottle it.
- Giggles. We’ll still have children’s laughter in the house for a good few years before the teenager grunting starts but I’m talking about the baby chuckles that shake their whole body and sound like a little bear cub. I’ll miss how easy it is to make a baby laugh; tickle, pull a face, make a panda pop up and down from behind a chair. Rather than Billy (3) standing there staring at me pulling faces and saying with the disdain of Simon Cowell “Daddy that is not funny”.
- The mystery. “Who are you?” Sitting staring at your new baby making up life stories for them, giving them the best bits of both your personalities. Fast forward two years. Your mystery bundle is standing in the supermarket screaming because the carrots are the wrong colour. Mystery solved.
- Watching them sleep. When they do finally sleep why is it that instead of rushing off to bed to grab a couple of hours precious shut eye you sit there in the dark bedroom listening to them breathe and staring? Even when your baby starts sleeping through the night you still insist on creeping in to peep at them, playing a parental version of Pie Face where the pie is the baby waking up and screaming at you for scaring the crap out of them in the night.
- Tiny clothes! Socks you can fit on one finger, babygros smaller than a kitten, ickle wickle hats that they will never ever wear. Two years later your house is full of clothes that don’t fit anyone. Time to have another baby ‘to get some more wear out of them’ – that’s a good reason right?
- Feeling like you’re in a members-only club. I’m not suggesting it’s like joining Soho House, unless you stay up all night and someone throws up on you. But once you’ve been through it you do sometimes get the bonding moments with other parents, talking about stuff no one gives a toss about, giving each other ‘the look’ when one of your offspring is having a meltdown in public, helping each other get on and off trains. Leaving the house without the kids is like stepping back into the old me but I’ve got the bags under the eyes and the random toy in my coat pocket to prove I’m a lifetime member of the #dadclub.
- Having an excuse for not leaving the house. Remeber all the excuses you had to make up when someone invited you on a night out but you didn’t really feel like it? Once you have baby you don’t need any more excuses, because you won’t be going out. Oh, and people will stop inviting you anyway. But you do get to watch all the boxsets you’ve never seen, even ones you never knew existed on Amazon Prime. And you get to become a Just Eat app black belt. (Don’t worry, there will eventually be cheeky beers at 3pm birthday parties with a bouncy castle.)
- The staring matches. Because you can stare at this face for hours.
10. Seeing them being born. I don’t mean the labour, watching someone you love go through hell and back, but after the hours of misery that precede it, that moment of meeting someone that you’ve created, witnessing life at the moment it enters the world
And 10 Things I Won’t Miss
- Changing nappies.
- Pushing a buggy.
- Taking an hour to leave the house.
- Sleep deprivation.
- Smelling of sick.
- Not being able to get on a bus. Or the next one. Or the one after that.
- Feeling overwhelmed.
- The disdain of some people without babies.
- The over-familiarity of some people with babies.
- Crying. Us and them.
So, the end of an era.
We’ll sell the buggies (yes, two), give away the tiny clothes to friends with new babies, try to donate the baby toys to charity shops, dismantle the cot for the last time, and ditch all the other gadgets and paraphernalia we’ve acquired over the last four years.
The house will seem bigger, and the same but different, and we’ll probably get a bit melancholy. But then we’ll remember how lucky we are to have two amazing, funny, loving little boys and we’ll set off on the next adventure together (carrying a lot less stuff).
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