Do you ever take a photo that just stops you in your tracks? I take so many photos that I must admit sometimes I load them onto the computer and don’t really look at them until later. I mean really look at them, open them up and study every little detail. Stare at them and soak in what the photo is telling me.
But when this photo of my biggest girl popped up onto my screen I couldn’t help but stop. To look so closely at that face looking back at me out of the screen and all the details it captures. To see that wide smile with her full set of perfect teeth, her rosy cheeks and the skin that we strive to keep healthy. The bits of hair escaping from the side of her hat, brushing against her face like a reminder that it has a mind of its own. The little button nose, the lines and dimples that show she is smiling from her eyes and those sparkling eyes that tell a story all of their own. But mostly, because she looks just that, my biggest girl.
I have been so so emotional this week about my babies growing up. It is probably due to Roma turning 2 on Wednesday and feeling like life is hurtling by at such a speed but I was looking at photos of when Roma was born and realised that in those two years I have blinked and not totally noticed the change in Eva.
Of course I have noticed that her legs have got longer and that she will undoubtedly soon be taller than me, that at just turned 6 years old she has to wear 7-8 clothes due to those aforementioned long legs that are definitely inherited from Daddy. I have noticed that she can now do everything for and by herself and loves that independence, she can read anything that is placed in front of her and adores the freedom that gives her. I have noticed that she can now stay up that little bit later than the 7pm bedtime as she grows out of the need to have 12 solid hours a night. I have noticed that she is now responsible enough to have her inhaler, her medication and her creams controlled and requested by her, for the most part. And I have noticed that when I pick her up her body no longer meets around mine. That her arms have to double over as they wrap around my neck and her legs sort of hang down as I place my hands under her bum to keep her there as long as I can.
I have noticed all of that, but I haven’t really studied it. Taken in the difference, the fact that this beautiful face has changed so so much in the last two years. There is absolutely no toddler left, no tiny little girl and that she looks more grown up each and every day. And it makes me cry a little bit. I’m not sad (ok maybe I am a little bit sad) but it is a weird mixture of love and pride and desire to keep her close to me and it physically hurts. Or rather aches in my heart that I made her and that together we have got here.
She is going through a phase at the moment of being frightened, of separation anxiety and of problems at school. She is learning that as much as we would give her everything she needed and protect her as fiercely as we can. It won’t always be the case that a parent can protect a child from everything. She is starting to stand up for what SHE believes in. She is learning what that even is and it is scary.
She is up in the night at the moment, she doesn’t want to go to sleep, for me to leave her side ever and is also confusingly at the same time craving her own space. She needs guidance, she needs us.
I read up on development at this age, as you do, and it put into perspective the change her brain is going through. Of course I have been supporting her but it is also hard not to get annoyed at 9pm when she says she can hear a cow at her window or she is scared of every noise or that the light isn’t bright enough or too bright and that she wants to know what we are doing. My sound sleeper, the one I could rely on to sleep 12 hours a night whilst I roam the landing in a zombie like state with her sister is growing, changing and whilst I still get annoyed at 3am when she has decided to take off her pyjamas and is now cold, I want her to know that I am there. Always. I want her to know that if these little problems ever become big problems I will be there to hear them. Whatever time that may be.
Very soon this face is going to look very different, those perfect little white baby teeth are starting to wobble. Soon there will be a hole, a gap, a new big tooth that will make up this beautiful smile. Which whilst still being the most beautiful smile in the world, will be a completely different one. I’m definitely not ready for that, but then I never am. And as this last 6 years of parenting has taught me it doesn’t matter if you are not ready, if you try to hang on to a stage as long as you can, it still passes. It still comes.
So for now I will get up in the early hours of the morning, I will cuddle her when she is crying and I will be her sounding board when she is shouting that she hates the world and everything in it. Because she is learning and she is changing and as much as I want to stop time and keep my baby girl just as she is right now. I am also that person to keep her safe, to protect her and to teach.
I am so so proud of her right now I think I could burst and when I look at this photo it tells me so much more than you can see.
Mummy might not always be able to fix everything Eva, I might not always be there to protect you from the world around you and I might sometimes be the cause of your problems in the first place. But I will always try to equip you to protect yourself, I will be there for you always in whatever form that might take and above all I will help you to be a nice human. So far Eva I have to tell you, you are doing a fabulous job.