I’m not being very original this week; well not in the genesis of the idea anyway. I’m certainly not the first and very probably not the last mother of more than one to want to remember a little one on one time with my eldest, and if you’re written about it as part of The Ordinary Moments, then thank you for the inspiration.
Once upon a time it was just the two of us. From the day that H went back to work after his paternity leave until the time Kitty started nursery and I went back to work, we were each other’s constant companions, and even when that time was over, we spent at least two days a week together, and often more as H’s new job took him away for various training courses.
And then our darling Elma arrived, and Kitty grew a foot and got a stone heavier overnight, and got promoted from “baby” to “eldest daughter”.
I’ve tried to make sure that our days as a three include plenty of things that are mainly for Kitty; and when Elma started to have her naps upstairs in her cot, rather than in my arms, we made it a time for abandoning housework, curling up with a story, grabbing the paints, or playing in the kitchen (play or real). But it isn’t really the same; I’ve always got one ear open for noises from upstairs, and at any moment Elma might wake up and decide to join in the fun. It isn’t a bad thing, and we’re usually both missing her by the time she wakes up, but it is different to how things were, and it isn’t really giving Kitty full focus.
Other than that there have been a few trips to the newsagent or the chip shop, or times when we’ve left Elma with H while Kitty and I go to her ballet class, but even that isn’t more than half and hour or so.
So when Elma’s settling in schedule included an afternoon visit to nursery on one of Kitty’s at home days, I knew we had to do something special.
So naturally it poured with rain.
The original plan had been to go to the park together for her birthday photos and I nearly shelved it as the clouds got greyer and greyer and the light started to fade away, but Kit had found my spotty red umbrella, and really really wanted to take it for a walk, so off we went.
The park was deserted, and a gentle mist plopped from the sky at regular intervals but Kitty didn’t seem to notice. She abandoned her raincoat before we’d even got through the park gates and she was off; dancing and twirling and running and jumping, always chatting or singing something that with a favourable mind and a following wind (and by “favourable” I mean “utterly biased because she is my super special snowflake”) could be interpreted as the alphabet song.
And unencumbered by nappy bags, a buggy, a little girl in a sling, or even a baby bump, I ran with her, following her lead and her stern directions:
“You wait here Mummy! Don’t move!”
“I can see you!”
We ran and played until the dampness puddled on our cheeks, and droplets shimmered in her hair like fairy dust, when the practical Mummy had to come to the fore to ask what we were doing next. I offered swimming or ice-cream.
Well she’s my daughter so ice-cream it was; and I took her off into Leamington to sit and drink hot chocolate and eat ice-cream in a little café whose lights spilled out invitingly across the soggy pavement.
These are my back up photos, the ones I would have used for her birthday post if the ones I was planning in my head hadn’t amounted to anything. But instead they are now the record of a lovely afternoon spent just the two of us; a memory to smooth over the frustrations of the everyday ordinaries that I don’t need to keep, to refresh and reset our connection when too many mischiefs have chipped away at my patience.
It’s these final ones that are most special to me, not because of the quality or their artistic merit, simply because I can’t look at them without remembering that I made her giggle by running towards her making silly wobbly faces.
I got the chance to talk to her that afternoon, to hear what she’d done at nursery the day before, what her friend K had said, what she wanted for her birthday supper. To walk, with a small warm hand tucked into mine, and to appreciate just how very little she still is. It’s so easy to forget, when her sister is so much smaller, and she seems so big and strong and confident. But she’s still my baby, and that’s worth savouring, because it will be fleeting.