Life at 36, 11 months and 3 weeks

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I wake in the mornings around 6.30 or 7, by Daisy walking in. She still needs to say she is up although she will head out and fend for herself. Some days I wake all by myself, a miracle in itself, and approximately 345 times better than having someone yell at you or for you, the very first thing in the morning. I clamber over a sleeping Harper who sleeps on a mattress on the floor next to our bed. I gave up a long time ago fighting that battle, or giving a shit about what should or shouldn’t happen when it comes to children and sleep. She sleeps there. I get sleep. We are so much better for it, letting go of the expectations and just being. As soon as I move though, she sits up, still it seems connected to me by some invisible trip switch when she sleeps. We rush for dressings gowns and slippers as we head down the hall way rushing to get the central heating on, or to see if there are still some coals burning away that we can start up again. Rob always follows after, always after, but makes up for it by presenting me with a hot cup of coffee as I read my emails ready to start the day ahead.

Once we hit 7.30am the mornings are busy, frantic even. Calling out the time and counting down the minutes until we have to leave. The pitch and loudness increasing as each minute passes as we both get the girls to get dressed for School, pack their bags, lunches, check they have what they need for the day whether it’s library books, news, a reader or sport. There are fights about hairbrushing, and tears every other morning, eye rolls about home work and questioning every single time whether teeth brushing really is necessary or important. The beds get made, the hot water bottles emptied, the breakfast cleared away, washing on the line and even a quick sweep/vac before we head out that door. I swear my need for order to greet me when I get back from School drop off will be the death of me.

By 8.55am the house is quiet the girls are hopefully off and I can start my day.

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The days fly by – seemingly by magic – all of a sudden it can be 11 and then 2 and I know that I won’t get back to my desk until 8. They are filled with time spent online at my computer, deadlines and work, coming up with ideas, creating content, working on projects, emailing, planning. They are so busy, so much to do with no time at all it seems. I remember the days of parks and coffee and filling them stuff just so they could be over like a distant memory, and I vow that I will get back to them sometime soon. I say yes too much. I want to get time back, time that seems to run through my hands like water that I cannot hold onto.

Harper is creative and smart and funny and shy. We have just a few months left – her and I – and every time I think about next year hot tears prick my eyes. My baby, my small children, they are leaving me and I am resigned to the fact. Daisy is so grown up, so confident and self assured. She is smart but needs to be pushed, I don’t want her to be lazy. There’s just SO much that you want for your children isn’t there? I see where we have come from and into this magical phase that we are about to enter where the nights are easy, the time spent together is just so damn enjoyable and I am just plain proud. Letting go might be hard but there is just so much right there to look forward to.

Rob is working hard, doing good, being patient, always kind. Over committed and yet always ready to make me laugh. He will wander in from his office at any given time in the day and even when it’s to completely wind up one of the girls and then walk out that door back to the quietness of his studio, I don’t ever stop being grateful for the fact that we are here, working together from this place we can now call home.

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I see this other kid, often in the corners of my mind, sitting there, waiting to be born. And I cry for them because I don’t know that I have it in me to do it. To go back. To start all over again. I think about that chubby, laughing baby of all the joy they would bring and yet I can’t see beyond all the sleepless nights. The feeding. The going back. I just don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. I don’t know.

I might not ever know.

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The afternoons are routines and order. Whether it’s driving to that sport or that activity, getting the wood stacked and the fire on. The home work done, the dinner on the table. The rhythm is constant and it’s comforting. That dinner still hits the table at 5.30 or thereabouts and we all still eat together as a family – a precious thing that I don’t ever want to let go of. Bottoms are still warmed by the fire each night, pyjamas at the ready, as is Dad with a funny story or cuddle to give. My goodness what a privilege that is.

While it might have been time together at nights for Rob and I it’s usually a committee meeting, some more work, time on my computer trying to get stuff done that didn’t make it in the day. Sometime after 9 we might catch a TV show, or just collapse onto the couch before loading up that fire and heading down that hallway to bed, to do it all over again.

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These days are busy. They are filled to the brim. Yet they are such good days. Days that are filled with hard work, but worth every minute. I feel proud of what we have achieved – all of us individually and all that is to come. Life with a family is always changing, whizzing by quickly, holding onto what you can and looking forward to what will come.

It might be busy, but life is indeed good at 36 years, 11 months, and 3 weeks. And even better when right up until last week I thought I was turning 38 this week!

Here’s a flashback to this very week a few years ago.

Comments

  1. I love your reflective posts Beth. Make me reflective too. First up – Harper is on the floor? That is so great. I have wondered. Good on you for letting go. Our number 2 sleeps between us every single night. Creeps in sometime after 12 and we hardly notice anymore. I figure he’ll stop one day. Or not. Don’t mind.
    Third? Best decision we made. Or didn’t make. She wasn’t planned. Completed us and our boys who love and adore her. But it’s so personal. No right answer for everyone.
    Happy birthday for next week lovely one.

  2. What a great reflection – you’ve created it all – your growing and good relationship, the girls, your home. How beautiful!

  3. Goodness, I love this post. What a wonderful family and a wonderful life you have.

    On the weekend, Clint and I went out for dinner. At the tables next to us there were parents with their babies and toddlers (as is so often the case here) and as always I was amazed at the fact that parents take their kids out to dinner at restaurants at 9pm. As we walked out of the restaurant one couple and their 18-month-old headed out in front of us and I commented to them how good the boy had been. Like a ton of bricks this feeling crashed over me – I wasn’t the parent of tiny children anymore. It’s been such a big part of who I am for so long. I felt wistful and sad and glad all at the same time. It feels like a million years and the blink of an eye these ‘young’ years. Strange how these emotions and feelings come out of nowhere. As I said to you recently, I’m done diddly done and it’s nice to feel completely done, but every now and then that yearning rears its head.
    xxx

  4. What a wonderful post Beth! Actually nearly brought a tear to my eye when you mentioned the ‘other kid’… I feel the same! Thank you for sharing your life and lovely family with us. Yours is my favourite blog to read!

  5. I’ve got you THE best present. Cannot wait to see you in a couple of weeks. I love how you are at one with your life now xx

  6. This is the most genuine, beautiful post I have ever read on your blog. Your photos are always whimsical and often poignant but you writing style is usually different (not bad! just different!). This post reveals a softer, more grateful, more vulnerable side. Probably not something you want to put out there every day (the vulnerability) but so beautiful when you have. Thank you for sharing, this post has really touched me (in a good way) and I feel really privileged when a blogger pulls back the exterior just a little and lets the reader see something not usually on full display. (Please don’t take this as criticism of the way you usually write, I like that too! I just really ‘felt’ this post and that means something).

  7. My youngest of 3 slept on a mattress next to our bed till he was 5 1/2 it was such a special time, he would hold my hand until he fell to sleep, and if he woke in the night he knew I was right there and I would offer him my hand, it worked for us, I am not that good at rules for the sake of rules, so we had no problem with it. He is 19 tomorrow and as hard as I look at him, I can’t find any signs that it did him any harm at all. The most important thing is to love and feel that love right back, he has always had that. Only you can answer the ‘another child’ question, that’s a hard one……
    Love your words xx

  8. I’m with you on the sleep thing, whatever works, it’s just not worth getting my knickers in a knot about it. Although I do yearn for later starts, 5.30 is too early for me especially since I’m a night owl. As for having more children, I don’t know if I’ll ever know I’m done, I would love a fourth but logistically, financially, mentally, I’m not sure. Hubby had the snip so I suppose that answers that questions, it’s not just my decision to make. I’m also said to be losing my middle child to school next year, I don’t feel I have had enough time with just him and I. I love this age, and have just realised next week will be your birthday!

  9. Bele @ BlahBlah says:

    Beautiful words and me oh my what a gorgeous rhythm you have in your life. I’m especially impressed that you can remember how old you are, this is a talent I seem to have lost somewhere. For some reason I always think I’m a year older x

    • I can not remember it at all. Last year I thought I was turning 38 and then I posted this and saw that I had written the heading at life at 35. DER BETH.

  10. Wow… your post to me was beautiful. Through your words I sense such a yearning.. you are such a good mum, that shines through brightly!!!! Rob’s a good dad and husband! It was said to me and for me it rung true..
    “you dont regret the children you did have, only the one’s you didn’t”
    there’s no going back in time to try again once your times over. I didnt feel like my family was complete after 2 kiddies, we swung back and forth on the subject. We thought we need to make a decision on this, so we did .. no more.
    Well obviously the wrong decision, as 6 weeks later we were pregnant!!!! Surprise… Annie has been such a blessing and just lights up our family, she’s a little firecracker and we love her so!
    Have a beautiful birthday xxxxx

  11. Oh… we had a 6 year age gap!!! ^^

  12. Strong reflective words Beth. There is however a tinge of sadness of the moment you live And have lived. I feel the way you wrote here is influenced by the book you are reading as the words seem to be very descriptive and roll forward quickly. Turning 37 you are still a young un’ with so much still. I, like you at your age a few years back also yearned for another. I felt or even at times feel there are still babies to be born. But probably never mine again. Deepest deep down I really logically think two is enough for me for now unless a miracle occurs. Two is enough to care for, to love, to teach, nurture and protect. It seems that small children need their parents, both my two come into my bed at night and snuggle. Both my children need their parents to kiss them good night to be with them until they sleep, to tell there are no monsters and they should not be fearful. This seems normal. Everything that works for a family that keeps children calm and safe and happy is normal. It is late here I am going to sleep just finished episode 10 of got season 4 – the children. Monday tomorrow and off we start the week again. Enjoy being 36, enjoy your beautiful girls, your freedom, your family, your friends, your strength! Thanks for writing honestly and being you. Here is to 37! Salud.

  13. Sounds like you have a busy but beautiful existence that is flowing along without too many hitches. I reckon you’ve all found your groove and life is familiar and comfortable. I look forward to this. The reward of having slightly older kidletz and leaving all the feeding and sleepless nights behind. I imagine going back to that after leaving it behind would be understandably daunting and overwhelming. Too hard basket for sure although I can understand the yearning. Baby number 3 is up for debate in our household too…..
    Keep the happy days rolling xx

  14. I always love your posts, but this is my fave. Life is so much sometimes that it’s important to stop and take notice of the good things.

    My girls drive me mad, but I miss them when they are gone even just an hour.

    Sometimes I wish I could fast forward, just to know that they’ll be OK when they are older, just so I can breathe a little. But that would be cheating, wouldn’t it?

    Thanks for a great blog x

  15. Gosh this post hit home for me, I’ve been in the same reflective headspace lately and I love this deviation you’ve made in your blog style, even as a once off, it made it clear we are all of one sea and our thoughts are shared, and even those that seem the most together of all of us don’t always feel that way. That we can be grateful and abundant and yearning and questioning all at once and that is ok.

  16. Hi Beth, I just love reading your posts. My fav one was a few weeks ago when you spoke about seeing the world through the eyes of a child, but now I think this is my fav. I am sitting here crying, as we only have one daughter – she is 4 and I think of that other child daily. I’d love it but maybe it’s not meant to be. I get up several times a night to her for the monsters that live in the cupboard, and haven’t made the step to the mattress on the floor but just may do so now. I’m so tired, but the days are blissful with the never ending drawing and fun that we have.
    Thanks for your wonderful words, you’re a gem x

    • Thanks Alison – you’ll know what the right thing is for both of you – and whatever you choose will be the right thing! Be confident in your decisions x

  17. What I like about you Beth (and your blog) is that you always see the beauty in everything, be it mundane or majestic and you are always positive and grateful for what you have. Sometimes it is your blog (and your simple but stunning photography) that is just enough to get me out from under my doona and face the day. Thank you for being you and and sharing what your are.

  18. Beth I cried at the part where you wrote about the child in waiting. That was me for years, undecided & then more years of trying to concieve that third child. He arrived, filled our lives with joy, our hearts with joy & 15 months later he still doesn’t sleep but it is ok. Surprisingly we added a fourth very quickly afterwards & life is fuller, crazier & better than ever.
    I totally understand your indecision. It’s just so hard to know when you are done. But we are now. My heart tells me but so did the doctors bill after the husband had the snip ;)

  19. That little one waiting in the wings…such a hugely personal issue I know, but maybe if you ‘don’t know’ that is actually a very quiet whisper…I know every situation and family is very different and unique, but so many times you hear a very definite feeling of completeness at a certain point, or just a quiet whisper of maybe, and then a surprise #3 who gives that feeling of completeness. Just my two cents.

    Me? I want to have a thousand Eleanor’s. For years I have always wanted to be a mum, clucky from very young, always about the babies, the kids, the mothering, never about the career or travel (much). Then I hit a panic button somewhere around 9 months pregnant, what if I actually didn’t like being a mum? What if I wasn’t any good at it? It was all I’d wanted to do for so long! Turns out I am pretty good at it, and I do really like it, every single part of it, even the 4 day labour with a 9 pound posterior baby! Hours after she was born I wanted to do it all again. Hormones, eh? So yes give me babies. Babies, babies, babies!

    Disclaimer: Don’t tell my husband ;)

  20. I love this post, thank you for sharing.

    I was in the same boat, I always wanted 3 children but the reality of having 2 energetic small boys was enough to put me off having that third one. I just wasn’t up to it, the sleepless nights for years, the tantrums, the constant tiredness! When my youngest just turned 5 and started kindy, I found out I was pregnant with my third, I feel awful saying this but I was devastated at the time. My beautiful daughter is now 6 years old. She is the light of our lives and has completed our family beautifully, I feel so blessed. I look at her now and she was the child I yearned for but decided it wasn’t for me but I’m so glad she decided otherwise.

    And another tidbit this all happened when I was 37 and I thought I was 38 until it was almost my 38th birthday, lol!

  21. I too had that ‘other child’ sometimes kinda yearning but Hubby had three older kids aside from our two and so we were done. Until we weren’t. Crazy how you can keep a handle on your fertility until 39 and then slip up… it’s a bit of a family tradition. That amazing piece of my heart started school three weeks ago and I’ve been a bit all over the place since then. How heartwarming though when she runs out the door at the end of her first day and throws herself at me crowing “that was fun Mum!”

  22. Martina Walsh says:

    Beautiful post, made me cry then burst out laughing when you discovered you were a year younger haha! Two things I thought to say, my 9 year old boy goes through phases of coming to our bed during the night, he hasn’t done it for months but the past two nights, he’s back again. It does get irritating at times but I feel for whatever reason he needs it so I’ll go with it. My children were always welcome in our bed, he just seems to need it longer! I have 3 children & if it is of any help to you I knew with certainty after 3 that I just wasn’t finished. Go with your gut. Now my youngest is 6 & I’m 41 and it’s time for a dog!

  23. Awesome post Beth!! This may very well be the prime of our lives. Such a great description of where you are and I can relate to every minute of your day as I am also about to enter my 37th year with a similar family make up. Thanks for sharing with such honesty!

  24. This is such a lovely post. Ironically I have a 7 year old and a 4.5 year old who is also starting school next year. I’m the same as you, I get teary thinking about her starting school….the year seems to be going so fast & I feel so sad about that part of my life (having small kids around) being over. I am trying to make the most of the lovely time we have left, knowing the end of an era is just around the corner. For us we’ve shut the door on #3, as we feel it’s just tooooo far to go back. We’re happy as our little family unit. Oh and also I just turned 37 but was also convinced I was turning 38….. :) Thanks for your posts, I look forward to consoling with you when school starts in 2015.

  25. Louise Taylor says:

    So glad you wrote this Beth. Was such an enjoyable read. Your heart will make the decision about baby number 3. It’s your head that’s confusing you by the sounds. Whatever your decision I believe you will be fine :)

  26. Beautiful post. I don’t have children….just didn’t work out for me, but it’s lovely to live vicariously through you.

    Okay, professional advice from a stylist….seeing that hair….you NEED this brush. It will change your life. (it’s like that Vanish bar you turned us on to….it’s saved 5 shirts for me so far.) No more crying etc. when trying to brush out tangles.
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Wet-Brush-Pack-Value/dp/B00DLAY0LQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407774982&sr=8-1&keywords=wet+dry+brush

    • Man I have almost EVERY brush in the world…but not this one! Thanks Renee :)

      • I too second the wet brush. Its made such a difference to my relationship with my daughter.

        I think the fact that you can still see that 3rd child out of the corner of your eye means that you’re not done with 2. I had always wanted 4 but after 2 I really had a feeling that our family was complete. There was no-one missing or yet to come.

  27. Beautiful post.
    And happy early birthday!
    I too was so excited to learn I am a year younger this year than I thought I was!

    We debated the other baby for about a year…and now that baby is on the way!
    I constantly have doubts about going back to the start.
    But I am also thrilled to go back to the start.
    If that makes any sense.
    Anyway, we will take it as is comes.
    Life is good isn’t it.

  28. Hi Beth, long time reader, first time commenter. We have 2 girls like you – the youngest one is 6 and still has sleep issues! She was a really light sleeper as a baby and ditched her daytime nap early – too much to see and do I think. She still creeps into our bed every night and while I love her so, the sleep disruption has driven me to the crazies at times. I ummed and aahed about a third bub too but the further away we ‘moved’ from babyville, the less keen I became. Still I see Mums around the neighbourhood with their babies and little nappy-bummed toddlers and I feel the pull on my heartstrings (or maybe my ovaries?). Sigh…the smell of a newborn’s head! I find myself getting all nostalgic about that wonderful time when the girls were littlies and what a precious cocoon it all was. I feel a bit sad that I will never have that again but I look at them now and see the amazing big people they are growing up in to. I reckon until you give away the baby stuff (cots, cradles, prams etc), you never feel completely done.

    • Thanks for commenting Eden! I gave away our cot and pram a few months ago but have been holding onto all of the baby things because my little sis is having a baby later this year. OR AM I HOLDING ONTO IT FOR ME?!

  29. A beautiful post Beth…… how many times long ago did I have that same conversation in my head…will I/should I have another one…..

    I stopped at perfection I always say now….

  30. Lovely post & I hear you Beth, I didn’t know if I had it in me either but apparently I do & at 15 weeks pregnant here we go again with number three, at 40 I didn’t have time on my side so we just let nature take its course & it did unexpectantly! It was a lot like you described the baby in waiting, the feeling of not being done yet…& so we are happy to add number three to our family of 2 girls and yet I have shed tears & have felt dread over the impending sleepless nights just when my youngest is sleeping better & the feeding & rocking & patting…& going back…can I do it? yes of course I can, but will it be easy, probably not but lets hope its worth every minute.
    You don’t regret the babies you have right…

  31. I absolutely loved reading this. What a gorgeous way to take stock.
    As it stands, this time next month I will turn 30. I can’t wait for the next chapter of my life to begin. x

  32. I think I will always regret not trying for number three. My husband even said one day as both our children were hugging him, that he felt like there was room for one more, that somone was missing. But the ship has sailed and we aren’t going to try for a third now. Every new baby I see makes me a little clucky and those gorgeous pregnant bursting bellies, well I feel an ache inside when I see them too. But maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Am grateful for the two healthy happy children I have.

  33. Love re-reading this post with hindsight.

    I always say that if you don’t know if you are done having kids, then you’re not done.
    That feeling of completing your family is a really strong one, well it is for me at least.
    Clint still says he sees another baby, I tell him it’s with his next wife. x

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