On some days it is too much. The baby cries every time I leave his sight and the toddler endlessly shouts “Mummy play with me!” and I cannot get away from these two needy little bodies. I am trapped in this place with everything I ever wanted, and I long to get away but there’s nowhere else I would go. I am in the thick of it with one on my hip, the other tugging at my leg; shrill voices demanding, sticky hands pulling, little bodies with me and around me and on me with never-ending need, and the sheer responsibility of it all overwhelms me.
On these days when I’m hovering on the edge, I think: “It won’t always be like this, they will grow up one day.” That “one day” seems so far away on the days when one more toddler meltdown has the power to break you.
But they will grow up, and here’s what I know: it won’t be one day, it will be every day, and I won’t notice it happening until it’s already happened. Monkey’s chubby thighs will lose their delicious squish, and his smell of diapers and lotion and milky baby breath will fade. Bean’s uncontainable energy will not be directed solely at me, but out at the world. No longer will I be his favourite playmate. No one will be begging for another game of Kiss Monster, and my jokes and silly songs will no longer be the height of hilarity.
These days of babies and toddlers are filled with longing – for time to go faster, for time to stand still. For our little ones to grow up, for life to get easier. For them to stay little, and life to stay simple. But at the core of all of it, the frustrating and the wonderful, is this: I am their mother and they are my babies. I have been entrusted with these two perfect little people and at this moment in time, I am their world. No one will ever need me like they do right now. No one else can love them in the way that I do, and I must strive every day to be deserving of the love they so freely give me.
And so, in the midst of the chaos, I search for those brief moments that bring me back from the edge. Monkey’s honest, trusting smile and the flash of a dimple in his left cheek. The way he nuzzles into my neck when he’s getting tired. Bean laughing and throwing his arms around me in pure toddler exhilaration. Because even if I really wanted to get away, where would I go? Right here, right now, this is my everything.