I woke up this morning feeling old. Before I had even opened my eyes, I could feel time slipping away from me. Tomorrow is Ebony’s second birthday, and I truly can’t believe it has come round so soon. It still seems like only yesterday that I was angrily bouncing on my birthing ball, glaring across the room at Laurie, and moaning about my aching hips. It doesn’t seem so long ago that Laurie was sat in the living room, amongst a tangle of wires and pumps, staring at the inflatable birthing pool and wondering why the hell we hadn’t had a practice run at putting up. Can it really have been two whole years since Laurie dragged me out in the rain, and forced me to walk around the block again, desperately waiting for pre-labour to end so that the real show could begin.
And can it really have been two years since I was woken by a contraction, just an hour after falling asleep? I can remember it all so well, the hot water filling the bath, the app on my phone timing the contractions, and the feeling of butterflies in my chest, as labour finally began. At 9:14am tomorrow morning, Ebony will have been my world for two years. From the slippery, grey baby with huge dark eyes in the birthing pool, to the little girl with the big smile, who just ran the whole way home from play group, in just two years.
One thing I have noticed since becoming a mother, is that this is always the best time of all. Whether it was the days cuddled up with a newborn, the long walks with a six month old asleep on my chest, or the conversations I have with my toddler now, I can never imagine life getting any better. Each time I have thought, this is it, this is the happiest time of motherhood, and each time I have been wrong, because it just continues to become more amazing.
I spend most of my time with Ebony, working while she naps so I can spend my days with her, and yet I never tire of her. We were at a group the other day, and she was milling around, getting into the odd confrontation with other children over personal space, but mostly just exploring by herself. She found something interesting and came running over to show me, holding her hand out to lead me there. I love being the person she wants to share things with.
I love when she wakes me up in the morning by giving me cuddles and kisses. I don’t love it when she uses brute force to get me out of bed. I love when she enjoys the food I’ve cooked for her, “Mmmm, wow, yummy!” I don’t like when she takes food off my plate only to regurgitate it back in place moments later. I love watching her care for her toys - kissing them, feeding them and reading them stories. I don’t like when I ask her not to do something, and she immediately grabs a toy and uses their hand to do whatever it was instead, usually while saying, “No, Sweep, no, no, no.”
I love when she is feeling stressed or unhappy, and she puts her hands up to signify ‘stop’ and shouts “Muuuummy!” I love that she is strong-minded and independent, but I hate this means we often have to walk round the village in cold weather while she wears only inside out clothes and no coat. I love it when she dances, and the enjoyment she gets out of music. I love that she likes the Beastie Boys and the Rolling Stones. I love that she is fascinated by new things, and unafraid of nature. I love that she is happy to get dirty, fall over and splash in puddles.
I love that her vocabulary is growing every day, and that she randomly comes out with new words I didn’t know she knew. I don’t like that she hasn’t yet understood social norms for conversation and will happily announce to a queue of old men in Debenhams, “Mummy buy bra, mummy boobies.” I love that when she is proud of something she says “Cheeese!” so that I will take a picture.
Ebony has changed so much over this past year. From the baby who turned one in my arms, unable to walk and barely talking, to the hopping, skipping, jumping toddler telling me about her day. During this next year, there will be lots of changes in her, and though at the moment I feel terrified of her growing up, I know that I will always continue to feel that this, right now, is the greatest moment of all.