As a mother I am used to things changing. In that very first moment that I set eyes on my baby girl and held her close to my chest everything changed and since then, it’s pretty constant. No sooner have they (and you) settled into one phase than its time for the next. When I think I have got something nailed they decide otherwise, to change the rules and that that is not the way to handle it anymore. From cluster feeding as a baby, the way I would wind them over my shoulder, the way they like to sleep and when, all the way up to how they like to style their hair or what their favourite book is.
As a mother I have got used to adapting. Taking it all in and relaxing in the knowledge that it is always going to change. Yet some of these changes still surprise me, still catch me off guard and before I know it, these perfect little idiosyncrasies that I am sure are a permanent part of the character of my child, disappear without trace. This is of course especially true for Eva as I am still learning as much about parenting every day as she is.
Since Eva started school and turned 5 almost a whole year ago things have changed so very quickly I find it hard to keep up. All these changes are amazing and wonderful in their own right but of course almost always bittersweet (apart maybe from when they go past the throwing themselves on the floor phase, the Why, Why, Why stage or the refusing to go to the toilet at nursery phase, I was glad to see them pass!)
But this last week again has seen a big change in a really small way.
Despite being allergic to cows milk Eva has always been a milk girl. As a tiny little newborn she would need constant breastfeeding, would guzzle down her bottles of frankly disgusting specially prescribed formula, drink beakers full of soya milk and then glasses of the stuff morning and night. It has been pretty much the first words she utters upon waking in the morning for as long as I can remember. That afternoon milk that so many children drop soon after weaning was present for her until she was almost 4. Eva is definitely a girl who loves routine and consistency and to her the thought of going to bed without a glass of milk was like going out with no clothes on, it was just a step she never missed.
That is until this week.
One night after dinner as the gate closed at the top of the stairs and I opened the kitchen cupboard like every other day, I heard a little voice shout down the stairs “I don’t want any milk today thank you”. The words echoed around me. She said them so casually, like it was no big deal. And I didn’t realise how such a small decision could say so much about her growing up.
I’m so emotional already about the fact that in 2 months time she will be 6. Which somehow seems so much older than 5 does. ‘5 and under’ it’s an age category I’m not sure I’m ready to be out of with her. But she is growing up, into the most awesome human. So I walked up those stairs with just 1 beaker of warm milk in my hand because that is the way her sister currently likes it and felt so acutely the absence in the other hand. The hand that was now free to open the gate without balancing the cup precariously on the other or passing the drink over said gate because she couldn’t wait that long to start drinking. It reminded me once again how you blink and the world seems like a different place. How a year ago I would have had a baby on one hip on that walk up the stairs and how now she does that all unaided.
These phases are the ones that in years to come will be hard to remember, and the ones I never want to forget. She might not have milk anymore, and I might not miss the way she gulped it down like it was being taken away and slurp right into my ear as we sat side by side! She might not need me to sing the same two songs I have done every single night for the past 5 years or insist on three kisses and a “spare special one”; but she still needs alot of things, she still needs me.
She loves a bedtime story, my bedtime stories. So that, sat alongside the glass of water on her bedside table, even if just for now, is here to stay.
I went on a trip down photo memory lane to see if I had any of her drinking milk and got lost in the process, I really can’t believe that she used to look like this!