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Firsts and Lasts

(Originally published in the Autumn 2018 edition of Little Treasures Magazine)

“I re-homed the Mountain Buggy while you were out, it’s gone to a lovely family expecting a surprise third baby” my husband beamed at me, a look of expectant pride on his face as if I’d soon be whipping out a certificate for ‘The Most Helpful And Organised Partner’.

“You WHAT?” I shrieked.

“G-gave away the M-mountain Buggy?” He stammered, “The thing you said we should probably give away because Tilly is too big for it now? To a nice family? Was that not right?” Doubt flickered across his face as he edged towards the fridge to pour me a large wine.

It was absolutely the right thing to do, better than my default plan based on leaving it under the house to gather that under-the-house-smell saying, “we really must re-home that buggy,” every time I trip over it while trying to hunt down the cat. It’s not that I didn’t want another family to benefit from the pram that had given me a sense of freedom and sanity – I’m big on passing on baby equipment – but saying goodbye to what the three-wheeled hero represented had me tied up in knots.

When I was trying to get pregnant the first time and wasn’t sure if it would happen, I used to gaze longingly at women out for a stroll with their cherubs and think, “I want to be one of you so, so badly, happily pushing one of those things”. The buggy was the first major piece of baby equipment we bought when I finally looked like I was smuggling a beach ball, and bringing it home made motherhood feel real. Both my girls spent hours in that thing (especially Tilly, who pretty much only slept in the moving buggy, to the extent that I trained for a half marathon as I figured it was just effective use of time while she was strapped in and actually sleeping), but I couldn’t remember Amy or Tilly’s last ride in it, and that really bothered me. “I should have taken a photo. I should have baked a commemorative cake.” I sniffed. “If only I’d realised it would be the very last time”.

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The Mountain Buggy’s first ever outing with Amy, then a couple of years later – bearing a few scars and cracker crumbs – with Tilly.

“But I can’t remember the last…” rolls around in my head a lot. There’s so much fanfare about first times, but it’s the last times that get me misty-eyed. It wasn’t such a big deal with Amy – I knew I’d get the repeats with Tilly – but now each time an outfit is outgrown or the baby spoons are relegated to the play box for the dollies, I have a wee panic because I can’t conjure a memory of the very last time they were used.

To satisfy my sentimental nature, I did put Tilly in her beloved baby carrier that I was particularly attached to (because it spent so long particularly attached to me) the night before handing it over to friends. I’m glad I did because it was hilarious to see my child dwarfing the very thing that used to envelop her, and I could look at photos of my friends traveling the world, their son happily peeking out of that same carrier, without wanting to wail over not remembering the last time my baby was in it.

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The beloved baby carrier

It makes me sad that I can’t remember the very last bottle, the very last nappy change (actually, that’s ok), the last time they were strapped into a capsule instead of a car seat, the last time I switched off the baby monitor, the last time Amy called me ‘Mama’ instead of Mummy or Mum, the last time I had to sing and pat them to sleep…wait, that’s not true – I had to do that tonight with Tilly and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the very last time by a long shot. Honestly, that child will probably call me from Spain when she’s 21 on a Contiki Tour to demand I sing her off to sleep while she constantly interrupts to vocalise every thought passing through her head.

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They both wore this snuggly dressing gown and I LOVED it! When was the last time they wore it, though?

I vividly remember writing my first column for Little Treasures at the kitchen bench in front of an alarmingly blank laptop, doing squats to keep Tilly asleep in her front pack while Amy watched Sesame Street. I was going to fib and say “while Amy did crafts at the table”, to make me sound more wholesome, but I won’t start lying to you now. And now, I will remember this, my very last time writing this column, on a little break in Taupo after a day spent watching Amy swim in the lake (when did she last need me to hold her in the water?) and trying to keep up with Tilly striding ahead on a bush walk (when was the last time she held her soft little arms up and demanded, “carry me?”)

Now that my babies are reaching an age where the snuffly, milky stage is a memory, and I can confidently leave the house armed with only a small handbag instead of a bulging nappy bag equipped for any emergency, it’s time to pass the column baton to someone still in the thick of it all.

It’s been fun writing for Little Treasures Magazine about everything from navigating the online world of sanctimonious mothers, to the differences between life before and after kids, to the minefield that is choosing a name, to family meal times, to traveling (there’ll always be a special place in my heart for the flight attendant who hand-fed me chocolates in lieu of dinner as I held a thrashing, screaming infant), to debating whether a third baby might be a nice idea. Thank you for reading my musings on life and motherhood, and especially to those of you who got in touch to say you enjoyed reading what I’ve written, it really made this Mama (Mummy? Mum?) happy to know there’s such a sense of solidarity to be found in this parenting gig.

(Note: I’ll still be writing here at McPikelets.com)

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