That moment when you walk out of the hospital, carrying your newborn baby, is such a hugely emotional one in every parent’s life. The realisation that this precious little squirmy bundle is yours to take home. Your heart is swelling with pride, and love, and also fear. Fear, because this little creature is so tiny, so vulnerable, and is dependent on you for everything. They need you to feed them, to coax them to sleep, to dress them, to bathe them. You feel that weight of responsibility so strongly, and it’s overwhelming in those early days.
And then, little by little, they start to become more independent. At first it’s just rolling over, then sitting up on their own, starting to eat proper food, and before you know it, they’re up and walking about and heading off to school, to university, to their own home.
Today is one of those milestone moments for Ben. I finally have his nursery ready, and we’re going to try him out sleeping in his own room tonight. It’s been a long time coming – he’s 7 months today, and I’ve loved having him in the Snuzpod, just an arms length away from me when he stirs at night. But now, our close proximity is becoming more of a problem, and we are waking each other up in the night and finding it difficult to resettle. It definitely feels like time.
And yet, now we’ve come to it, I’m feeling that familiar bittersweet taste in my mouth. It’s the first real step towards being independent, a baby step, sure, but still a step. And although I burst with pride at seeing my children become more independent, there is something else there too – a sadness that with every step towards independence, they need me less and less. It’s fleeting, and it runs beneath the pride, but it’s definitely there, and much more so this time around with Ben that it was with Max. I think there’s something especially bittersweet about watching your last child go through all these developments, knowing that it’s the last time you’ll experience it all.
I think when it comes down to it, the uneasy mixture of pride and sadness at watching them grow up is what parenting is all about. You’re always letting them go, bit by bit, coaching them to need you less and less, so that they can grow up and become independent adults. Ultimately, that’s my goal as a parent and I hope I can raise two independent, kind, and compassionate men.
But that doesn’t stop me having that bittersweet moment as I kiss my little baby goodnight and lay him down in his huge cot for the first time.
Night night little one, sleep tight.
And who knows what tonight holds, maybe you’ll be back in with us tomorrow 🙂