Dear Isaac and Flora
You are 4 and 1 (Flora, you will be 21 months old tomorrow). I have a window today where the worlds of nap time and nursery have collided, and instead of having a doze myself, or catching up on emails, or reading, I am writing this. I was sitting here thinking about you going to school this year, Isaac, and how fast your preschool days have galloped by. Just disappeared in a blink. I don’t really remember much about my life before I went to school, what I do remember seems to be like ghosts of memories – there for a second before slipping away into a fog. Everyday you are both changing and I keep forgetting to jot down the adorable/funny things you say, Isaac, and the new phrases and words rolling off your tongue now, Flora. And so I wanted to take this free moment to record something of this stage, a snapshot of family life just now, so that one day I can read this again and remember.
It seems meaningless to say I am tired today. I have been tired for about a year and a half, and tired seems to have become part of me, my response to ‘how are yous?’ and generally just intertwined with my me-ness now. (I was looking particularly pale and tired the other day and commented to someone: “Perhaps this is just what motherhood looks like on me”). I have already had two cups of coffee today and I am now cradling a cup of tea. My eyes are stinging with tiredness and I wish I had gone to bed to just lie down. Recently I have been feeling more tired than ever which is strange as, apart from a blip last night, you have been so much better at sleeping, Flora. Darling girl, you are my sleep thief. One fine day you will sleep “through the night” (you have, on occasion, slept in your cot the whole night, but I’ve gone in once or twice to settle you). You are also now sleeping 8-9 hour stretches, which has been wonderful. More often than not, you sleep from 7pm to 1 or 2am and then shake your head when I try to settle you, and point at the door with a firm, “Bed”. I don’t worry about you coming into our bed; this stage, as they all do, will pass soon enough.
Isaac, you go to nursery three mornings and two afternoons a week. When you’re not at nursery you are at home with Flora and either your dad or me. (Daddy has worked four days on, four days off since you were almost a year and a half, you’ve not known anything else). When you’re not at nursery we do all the usual things that mums with wee ones do – go to the library, the woods, meet friends, do crafts, watch films, build dens, bake, play in the garden… And I am trying to make the most of these days – these lovely lazy afternoons of pretending we are in an episode of Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures or the Octonauts on an Arctic expedition, or in the cafe you and Flora run in the garden – before the winds of change sweep us up this summer and we land on the other side of the holidays. I feel myself trying to freeze-frame moments, as if I’ve taken a photo of the two of you giggling or reading together, or us all holding hands and dancing in the kitchen, to store in my memory bank (in your words, Isaac, “lock it in my head”).
You have changed so much in the last 6 months, Isaac, but it feels like all of a sudden you became a little boy. You are a thinker, an analyser, and as, all 4 year olds do, you question everything at the moment. (On the way to nursery today: “But why is the sea salty?”. Recently: “Where do bees go in winter?”, “How far is it from here to the moon?”, “How many houses are there in the world?”, “Do dolphins sleep?”, which is fascinating – they let one half of their brain sleep at a time). You can ride your peddle bike, you are about to start swimming lessons, and you have just started to sound out words. You love nothing more at the moment than playing with Lego and Playmobil. You have been pushing boundaries in recent months, growing in confidence and trying to work out how to deal with your emotions.
And Flora, what a huge development spurt you are going through. You talk non-stop, recently trying short sentences (“I need that”, is your current favourite), running words together in a constant babble. But you always manage to convey exactly what you want, getting your meaning across very clearly – particularly when you want something. You parrot everything these days. You want to be wherever Isaac is. You make me sing the ‘Peter Rabbit had a fly upon his nose’ song over and over at the moment. You are full of fun and mischief, a twinkle in your eye when you do something you know you shouldn’t. You are fiercely independent. You are a whirlwind of noise and activity. You have no interest in trying to figure out how to put shapes in a shape sorter (instead taking the lid off and throwing them in that way then looking at me as if to say, “That’s how they go in there. Easy”). You frequently do the jelly-legged move at the moment to slide out of the buggy whilst I’m trying to pin you in it.
There are days when I can’t go to the toilet without you sitting on my lap, Flora; the times when you both cry at the same time; the moments when you want to be up and down simultaneously, Flora; when you scream at each other; when you don’t want to be in your buggy, Flora, half way home from nursery but you don’t want to walk either and just sit on the pavement screeching, whilst people stare at me. There are the days when I feel like I am always the frazzled one at play dates/groups/parties, and never seem to be able to have a conversation with anyone. The times when we’re late for nursery and your feet seem to be stuck in treacle, Isaac, and you run away shrieking in delight, Flora, whilst I try to chase you and get us all out the door. The times when I’ve managed to get you both wrapped up in jackets and hats, and have walked half way up the High Street before realising I’m still in my slippers. The days when everything seems hard and I’m so weary, and I lie in bed at night thinking how I should have done a, b or c differently (or a, b and c). Of course there are these moments, but then there are these moments – when you hug each other; when your little face lights up, Flora, because your big brother has walked in the door; when Isaac cries and you ask, “I-aac, all-ite? (Isaac, all right?). When you say something that makes me stop in my tracks, Isaac. When you tell me that you love me more than all the water in the rivers and all the hippos in the world. When you say something that resembles, ‘I love you’, Flora. When I cannot remember my life before you both filled it to the brim with your laughter and noise and chaos. It is utterly exhausting. But oh, there is such beauty in the chaos.