I had one of those moments in parenting yesterday when I realised that things had changed.
I was making up the children’s beds, while No2 washed her own hair in the shower, No3 was happily unaccompanied on the loo, and No1 was saving the world, or doing whatever it is that is so urgent and addictive on Minecraft.
I felt, quite suddenly, almost redundant. I realised, equally suddenly, that the baby days are really and truly over.
We have no more nappies in the house. The random collection of plastic crockery and bits of feeding equipment has been winnowed out to just a few coloured beakers. CBeebies is a rarity, not a kind of televisual sun-dial portioning out the day into manageable segments; we are four-fifths of the way to independent dressing; when we go out somewhere, the children can all jump into their (interchangeable) car seats and fasten themselves in. We do still use our knackered old Maclaren on a daily basis, but it’s just for the gun-to-the-head frantic rush of the school run. No3 rarely wakes in the night, and will stay (noisily) in his bedroom till he sees seven on his clock. I think, after eight years, we’ve finished with the desperate tiredness of starting day after day in the hour of five, or even four.
I should feel sad, shouldn’t I? I really don’t. I am sorry, a bit, that a very distinct phase is over; I am grateful that we got to experience it at all. I just like this stage of having three small but largely rational companions, three sets of wildly different conversations (usually at once), three new takes on the world around me.
And of course I’m not entirely redundant. Just as I pulled on the final pillowcase, I was summoned from the bathroom.
“Mummy, come and see my poos!”