My youngest child turns 10 this week. It is a big deal for her. “Double digits” as she tells me. It is a big deal for me too.
She is the youngest of five. Her eldest sister will be 21 in a few weeks.
It seems a very short time ago that we were surrounded by babies in the crazy house of five children under 11 years of age. Himself and I shared a whirlwind life of washing clothes, making dinners, never eating a hot meal, car seats being pulled in and out of cars, changing nappies and begging God to have them all asleep for 9pm! A lie in was something other people who didn’t know they were born. Woody and Buzz were heroes of the house despite lying around to be tripped over all the time. And going to work was respite. I can remember in the middle of a particularly challenging time in RFJ someone saying – “I don’t know how you work here” – and thinking to myself “you should see what I left this morning in the house!”
And even in the middle of the tiredness, and the never feeling tidy, and pulling dummies out of my work bag when I was looking for a pen at a meeting, even then I can remember saying how I wished I could just bottle them and keep them small. My happiest moments were when we had them all in their jammies and ready for bed and them begging their daddy for a wrestle. And him putting down whatever he was writing and going “RAR” like a dinosaur, chasing them up the stairs. The overwhelming feeling in that moment of how lucky I was wasn’t lost.
Now I sit with a different reality. My baby is ten. When my eldest was ten I considered her grown up! I dreaded this time thinking it would be less, emptier somehow. And yes it is quieter and sometimes less hectic. And I miss the little bundles of fun who loved hugs and kisses. But the joy I had then has been replaced with a new joy. In my house there is this new collection of individuals who are nearly all grown up and getting to know them as young adults is just as rewarding.
As they observe our world and make the most insightful comment I wonder where they came from. And in between the moments of commentary the slagging, jokes and total silliness is constant. Just an Insurance ad on the telly can mean tears of laughter for a night.
And once again, in this new era of our family, I realise how lucky I am and am reminded that while life is serious it should not be taken too seriously. Every day I work with families who had that joy brutally torn away from them and I know too well how fragile life is. So far from fear of change I embrace this new time, knowing I am indeed very lucky.