I don’t know what it is lately, but I’m spending so much of my time thinking of the future, and it scares me. Actually, I probably do know what it is. It’s Jessica bursting through the front door after school, and making her way straight upstairs for a shower and coming back down in her pjs. You see she suddenly decided about two weeks ago she no longer wants to bath with her sister. She doesn’t want to sit splashing around, with the jets or lights on. She’s not interested in her unicorn bath bombs she got for Christmas.
We went out over the Christmas holidays and as I held her hand I noticed how much taller she’s become. And then, just this week as we walked to the shop she pulled her hand away, and asked ‘Can I walk like this, mum’? as she walked hands by her side.
She’s also insisting when shes 11, she’s going out with her friends. When she’s in high school because ‘that’s what the big girls do’. Obviously because of Jessicas condition, the reality is I quite often will have no choice but to hold her hand for fear she’ll wander, and I know she won’t be going out without an adult anytime in the near future. But my point is, she’s growing up.
Callum came on holiday with us to the Lakes last summer, he hadn’t planned to, he just decided on the morning as we were packing he would actually like to come too. And that was probably our last holiday as a family of 5. He’s discovered a new lease of life since starting uni last September and is planning on a holiday with his mates this year.
And then there’s Emily. At 7-years-old she’s very much into imaginative play. Curious as to whether her toys comes to life (particularly Elmo) when she’s not around, she asked me to set up my camera whilst she was as school to see if Elmo moved. And he did. It took about an hour, and a lot of edits to make sure my hand was not caught on camera but Elmo jumped up onto the sofa, and waved into the lense and took a selfie with a cup cake. I’ll do anything to keep the magic alive for my child with the wild imagination.
But what happens when all this ends? When I’m no longer sat thinking where to take the girls at the weekend, when I’m no longer going to see animated films, even if I do fall asleep every time. When I’m no longer entering the ages of my children into the drop down box when booking a holiday. When I’m no longer picking up bits for a Christmas Eve box, or an Easter bonnet to decorate or Eggs for a hunt.
When the school runs stops, and the nativity plays and the party invites. When I’m no longer woke before 6 every morning with the girls bursting in the room with a ‘time to get up, mummy’, or like thismorning, the sounds of thumping as they jumped about their room singing ‘Baby Shark’.
I’m dreading it. The very thought of those days makes my heart sink. As they get their independence, I guess I’ll also get mine. Andrew and me are already having regular ‘date nights’. The girls are old enough to be left with Callum. We put them to bed but I know he lets them get up and orders pizza sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that we get this time together, but there is a time when I won’t have to check Callums plans for the evening to see if he’s free to watch the girls, because the girls will probably be out too. And we’ll come home, to an empty house. I don’t want a quiet, empty house. I want the noise. I want the singing. I want the chaos forever.
I’ve been a mum since the age of 21 so it’s pretty much all I know in adult life. I was in a relationship but it was far from ideal, and I became a single mum just two years later. That was also a struggle, but a different kind of struggle, and this struggles feels so much harder to deal with.
But above all this, don’t get me wrong. Please don’t think I’m sat in tears everyday thinking about the future and how empty I’m worried it may feel. I’m not. I’ve learned to live only in the present and I’m sat here smiling listening to Emily singing and drawing another picture of me, and Jessica swing off the door frame, as I type this.