We sat together in the sunshine, me on the grass, you in your buggy, watching the office workers sweat in their shirts.
We did not sweat, for we were not in a hurry. We were just spending time together, you and me, little Kirsty, with not much of anything to do, and all the time in the world to do it in.
It was a rare moment of relaxation. Where my first maternity leave was spent in countless classes, coffees with friends and leisurely walks, the second has been an altogether busier affair. We whizz about, Kirsty, chasing after your sister, rushing from home to nursery, dashing around the shops. Our quiet times come on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when Eilidh is at nursery. On those days we can stop, smile at each other and remember that life is not just about getting from A to B. Sometimes it’s about stopping at A, right where you are, and taking a look around.
I will miss those days, Kirsty. I will miss our lazy aimless afternoons watching films or baking muffins, before we head off to pick up Eilidh and you are engulfed by enthusiastic infants desperate to stroke, cuddle or kiss you. You beam at them happily, taking it as your right to be adored by older children, as you have always been adored by your sister.
Yes, I will miss those times, because they will very soon be over. In a few short weeks I will go back to work, and you will join your sister at nursery. I know you will be fine: you adore company, you love to play and you are enchanted by other babies. I am sure you will settle fast.
But you are my last baby, Kirsty. Barring any misadventures, I will have no more maternity leaves. No more years in which to step out of the world and devote myself to nurturing a new life. No further opportunities to breathe a little more deeply, walk a little more slowly, think a little more clearly.
And already you are changing. Where once you lay, helpless, on your baby gym, now you sit, spine as straight as a Buddha’s, waving and giggling and offering high-fives. You mimic our sounds, and we argue over whether they constitute your first word, and if so whether “Ma-ma” or “Da-Da” came first. Before our very eyes you are growing into a toddler, and soon my last baby will be gone.
And I will say goodbye. Goodbye to late mornings, to days spent in parks, to lunches and coffees where no-one is watching the clock. I will embrace alarm clocks and rush-hour trains and hurried breakfasts, hasty kisses at the nursery door and beans on toast for tea because there’s no time to cook anything else. I will remember how precious weekends are, and try not to spend them in Asda. I will pack up all my love and cuddles and kisses for you and your sister and I will squeeze them into evenings and weekends and my precious, blessed Mondays off, making sure you both get all of my heart even though I can’t be with you all the time. I will not be a part-time mum. I am your mum twenty-four seven, Kirsty, regardless of where I am and what I might be doing. No matter how old you become, I will always be there when you need me.
Thank you for this first chapter, little Kirsty. It’s time to turn the page, and see what happens next.