There is one question that I’ve noticed crops up a lot on my Facebook feed at the moment, and it is this –
Where did the time go?
I see it at birthdays and big milestones and especially now, at the start of the school year.
I know what people mean when they ask where the time has gone. They mean ‘how has my helpless baby developed into a real, functioning little person who can actually do things?‘ They mean ‘how is it possible for someone to grow and learn so much when day to day I have barely notice a change?‘ They mean ‘what a shame it isn’t possible to bottle and keep the nice bits of the baby days, because they’re never coming back.’
That (I think) is what people mean. We don’t actually mean ‘where did the time go?‘; because we all know where it went, don’t we?
It went on feeding and winding and changing nappies; on changing sleepsuits because this one’s been sicked on and….oh dear, now that one’s been poo-d on.
It went on tummy time and activity mat time and ‘let’s give you a go in your bouncer‘ time.
It went on baby books and nursery rhymes and lullabies.
It went on rocking, comforting, soothing, cuddling; and on evenings spent lying next to a cot when a baby wouldn’t settle.
It went on coffee mornings, on baby signing, on baby music and on I’m-so-tired-I-don’t-even-know-what-this-group-is-but-I’m-out-of-the-house-so-I’ll-stay-anyway groups.
It went on doing the laundry and folding it up and putting it away and despairing because the laundry basket is overflowing.
It went on applying teething gel and giving calpol and wishing a cuddle could just take away all that horrible teething pain.
It went on making a tea then forgetting it about it and reheating it an hour later.
It went on walking the streets with a pushchair trying to get a cranky baby to sleep.
It went on pureeing veg and providing breadsticks; on toddler-proofing the kitchen, and on mopping up spills.
It went on trying to teach small people to share and co-operate and listen.
It went on ‘oh no, you musn’t touch this‘ and ‘please don’t touch that‘; on kneeling down to play trains or stack cups or build towers.
It went on cleaning up cut knees; on applying plasters and wiping away tears.
It went on nights comforting crying babies and early mornings with cranky toddlers.
It went on sitting in the doctor’s waiting room and on trips to out of hours.
It went on bedtime stories and tucking in and ‘let’s get you back to your own bed shall we?’ at 2am.
It went on games of Snap, on Spot the Difference, on trying to teach children how to hold a pencil properly; on episodes of In the Night Garden and Peter Rabbit and Peppa Pig.
It went on pushing the swings and helping toddlers to negotiate the climbing frames.
It went on dealing with tantrums and sorting out arguments and teaching the concept of taking it in turns.
It went on disastrous trips to the shops, on rides on the bus, on making packed lunches and on ‘why don’t you just eat that last bit of cucumber?‘.
It went on ‘let’s do some colouring‘ and ‘let’s do some painting‘ and ‘ooh why don’t we make something?‘. And then clearing up the mess.
It went on fun days out and ‘oh dear that one went a bit wrong‘ days out.
It went on ice-creams, on rainy day trips to the library; on birthday parties and soft play.
It went on snatching a few seconds to cry in a corner, on frequently feeling out of my depth, on wondering why others always looked calmer than me, on raiding the snack box, on pulling funny faces, on doing silly dances and on planning birthday parties.
That is where the time went – on all of that and so much more. It’s been pretty busy hasn’t it?