I’m sentimental, I always have been. I’m very nostalgic, I’ll listen to a lot of – let’s face it, cheesy music – purely because it will take me back to a time or a place that makes me feel happy. I’m that type of person who ends up ruining the last couple of days of their holidays because I get so disappointed that they’re almost over and wishing I could go back in time and do it again. For the majority of decisions I make, my heart rules my head.
I take A LOT of photographs of the boys. One look at my Instagram, and you’ll have noticed that already. There aren’t any photos of latte art and nice rustic looking meals all perfectly arranged. It’s really not all that interesting unless you love looking at pictures of EXTREME CUTENESS, the two most adorable little boys I have ever set eyes on! Yawn you might think, don’t worry I get it, I get fairly bored looking at photos of other people’s kids too. But I take the photos for me, and I keep my favourites on Instagram as a sort of portable photo album for myself and I love looking back at the older ones.
There’s another reason I like doing this though. I’ve come to realise something probably already very obvious, but it only properly dawned on me the other day. Just how fast they are changing. Of course I know it already, I say it all the time. But I’m realising that as well as learning new things, getting taller, those sort of things, their whole personalities are completely changing. The person they are today is not necessarily the same person they will be tomorrow. Of course there’s an element of that in us all, but it’s much more amplified in kids.
This time last year, I used to have to ask people not to say the word ‘Banana’ around Rian, because he would almost explode with the excitement such was his love for bananas. Even hearing the word would make him hop up and down with excitement, and want one on the spot, and I couldn’t have him eating bananas all day and night. A few months later, the wonder of bananas had worn off, and his main purpose in life changed to eating ‘Gapes and Oburt’. That’s grapes and yoghurt to you and me. Gapes and Oburt even had their own song, that’s how much he loved them. He also used to get excited at the sight of the ‘Mote-Orto’, because seeing the Remote Control usually led to his other favourite thing in life, Thomas the Tank Engine. But even then, he only wanted to listen to the songs, so, I would spend my life watching this song, leaving it forever engrained on my brain, over and over. ‘AGAIN MAMA!’, so we’d rewind it and watch it again. And again. On a journey indeed.
It’s a bit like when, with a baby, you might pull a face which makes them almost cry with laughter it’s that funny. About an hour later you do it again, and they sit looking at you like you’re the biggest parental embarrasment they’ve ever had to face. What could possibly have happened in one hour to turn something from side splittingly hilarious to absolutely pathetically sad?!
So when Rian comes in and suddently asks for ‘grapes and yoghurt’, pronouncing it perfectly, and says, ‘oh there you are remote control!’ in the hope that I will put on Thomas, my nostalgic self feels a bit sad for the little person they have left behind, and a bit sad that I won’t hear the cute way he mispronounces his words. These little examples and how I’ll miss them are probably part of the reason why I cried at the part of Toy Story 2 when Jessie’s owner outgrows her and she’s flung under the bed, or in Inside Out when (spoiler alert) the imaginary friend character sacrifices himself. I cried! Why? Beats the hell out of me. I never had an imaginary friend, so I’ve no idea why that particular part got to me but for some reason, I find it extremely hard to let things go, however unimportant they may seem. So what I wonder is, will this turn me into a clingy type of mother who wraps them up in cotton wool? I hope not, I don’t want that. Judging by how Rian seems so independent already, I don’t think so. But I know there are things about them growing up that I am going to find so hard. I already miss parts of his personality that he has grown out of. Little things he says or does. No doubt it will be exactly the same with Alex. I’m sure all parents are the same in that regard.
I suppose you could argue that being too nostalgic could be a bad thing – it’s important to embrace change and look to the future and all those wise words people say we should all do. I’m not one to embrace change easily, although I’m trying to get better at it. But the fact I cling to nostalgia so much is also good too I think. It makes me appreciate them for how they are now because I know, in the near future, maybe even as near as tomorrow, they will change again and I will miss the version they are of themselves today.
Sometimes, after one of those long days when everyone is cranky and tantrumy and growing teeth and things, I’m wishing for bedtime, for peace and quiet. There’ll always be those days. When I’m not in the mood to watch another episode of Thomas again, that same episode again, because that’s his favourite one. To read that same book again for the 50th time in a row about Smartest Giants and Witches on Brooms and Gruffalos.
Instead, I recognise that tomorrow he might not want me to read to him at all anymore. Next week, he might not want to cuddle with me on the couch under his favourite blanket and watch Percy and Thomas cause ‘confusion and delay’. I know there’ll come a day when my nostalgic self will long for these days back again. I just wish they weren’t whizzing by so fast! And off I go again on my little nostalgic merry go round, dreading the changes instead of enjoying them while they’re happening right now.