It’s a funny old thing, this business of making people.
On the one hand, it’s hard graft: forging a whole new human being out of little more than snot, sleeplessness, and the refusal to eat peas. On the other, you know perfectly well it’s the ride of your life; you should be enjoying the view, dammit, not just wiping the sweat from your eyes.
I always mean to enjoy the view. It’s just that I’m forever going to do it later or tomorrow, when I’ve cracked the colic, or the tantrums, or the endless questions, or the Minecraft addiction. When I’ve folded the socks and wiped the table and made sure the homework is ready for the morning. I will look out of the window properly and take in the beauty…I just need to sort out a few things first.
Last night, I sat with my firstborn as he drifted off to sleep. He is so like me in so many ways that we are constantly bashing heads and elbows in the jostle of family life. Grumpy from staying awake to finish a latest book, I get annoyed with him in turn for reading when he ought to be doing something else. We’re not enjoying each other at the moment, caught as we are in a grumpy escalation of distractions and temper.
Cuddling him, in a lovely (temporary) truce, I comforted myself that I’ll fix it. That this is just a phase; that we’ll be back on track soon. We will. I know we will. We always have, we always do. We got past the colic and the tantrums (sort of). I can answer the questions without really saying anything. I have long since conceded that Minecraft will always win.
It’s just, I realised last night, that it’s another stint of passing the time as time passes by. The tricky phases always end, but when they do, there’s always another challenge waiting.
Children grow and change so fast, that you don’t get the chance to have your two year old without the battle of wills; the four year old without the incessant “whys?”, the eight year old without the boundary pushing. You just get, in turn, a three year old, a five year old, a nine year old, with their own issues and joys. They’ll never be two, four or eight again. And the socks will still need to be folded, the table wiped, the homework done, just as they did today.
Tomorrow doesn’t bring a better, improved version of today. Today won’t come again. I can’t enjoy it later, when all the difficult bits have been removed and there’s nothing blocking the view. Today, in all its makeshift, humdrum, obscured glory, is as good as it will ever be. And that’s pretty good indeed.