Growing pains

At the end of this month our youngest daughter, Willow, turns one. I’m pretty sure she’s also only a handful of weeks away from walking, based on her current love of being up on her feet and her frequent cruising along the furniture. And just a hop, skip and four short days after her first birthday, her big sister Rose starts pre-school. 
Our lives are about to change. In the space of just a couple of weeks we’ll be transitioning from life with a baby and a toddler to life with a toddler and a pre-schooler. (You hear that, Willow? A Toddler. Now pack it in with the night feeds!)
I’m excited, nervous and emotional. I can’t believe we will no longer have a baby in the house, and I can’t believe I won’t be spending all day, every day with my big girl anymore. (We both deserve a medal for time served up to now, I’m sure…)
I wholeheartedly believe that pre-school is a positive step in preparing Rose for school next year (don’t get me started on how terrifying that will be) but I am worried nonetheless. I’m worried she won’t like it. I’m worried she’ll love it, and therefore won’t like being at home with us the rest of the week. I’m worried kids will be mean to her. Im worried she might be mean to them. I’m worried she might feel sad and I won’t be there to cheer her up. But I’m also excited because I know how ready she is for her next challenge. 
I’m so looking forward to seeing her proud little face as she tells me about something she has made or mastered without my help. I can’t wait to see her artistic creations and meet her new little friends. And I’ll be so happy to see her blossom into an even-more independent little lady as she has adventures of her very own. (I’m acutely aware all of this will come with truck loads of attitude, door slamming and back-chat as we’ve experienced glimmers of that already *sigh*). 
Also, I am really looking forward to some alone-time with her little sister. You see, me and Rose had the whole of her first year, just us. Obviously Daddy had some holidays, his paternity leave and the weekends too, but mostly it was just me and Posey. We played, we laughed, we swam, we chilled, we learned, we created. It was indulgent, it was special and It. Was. Heaven. Then, I went back to work part time and she had half of her week at a superb childminder’s house. She loved it – and that’s how I know she’ll love preschool once she gets used to that too. 
Me and Willow have only enjoyed a few ‘baby days’ to ourselves. Rose was still going to the childminder a couple of days a week when Willow was über tiny, but as soon as I was made redundant we had to make the sensible financial decision to have her at home with us all week, so our alone time was relatively short-lived. I started to feel a little sad about the dramatically reduced amount of time I spent alone with Willow as a baby in comparison to her big sister, and then I realised… This is the best of both worlds. I’ve been able to spend Willow’s baby days with BOTH of my girls. I’ve been able to watch their bond grow, see how Rose has taken to her new Big Sister role and I’ve felt heart-swelling delight as I’ve witnessed the tender moments unfold between them.  
In a way it’s a shame Willow won’t remember our stolen moments, the times Rose went to Nan’s for her tea and we played together, just the two of us; the times Daddy got home earlier than normal so we sneaked out for a snuggly baby-wearing walk, but thankfully she will also forget the amount of times I had to plonk her down somewhere to tend to her sisters needs above hers, simply because Rose yelled louder and Willow is a freakishly chilled-out and happy baby. (Seriously, the kid smiled and coo-ed at the nurse who examined her throat and made her gag yesterday. She’s unreal).
I once joked that maternity leave was all skew-whiff and Mothers should have a couple of weeks off to recover, hand their (often grizzly and poo-covered) baby over to a professional for the best part of the next 11 months and THEN be able to take a joyous year off to enjoy their toddlerhood. The cheeky phase. The chatter, the waddling about, the tumbles and triumphs as they master the art of being on two feet and the playful, fun times when they love bashing toys about, scribbling pictures and ooh-ing and aah-ing over every new thing they see. 
Well, that’s where we are. And we get to tell a very excited big sister all about the things we’ve seen and done while she’s been off making memories of her own for the very first time. If we can get a word in, that is. Maybe growing up isn’t so painful after all. 

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