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The sweetest thing

It’s no coincidence that babies and young children are so cute. If they weren’t, I think we’d see a lot more Moses baskets on the side of the road or in conveniently placed rushes on the edges of rivers. Thankfully, there are moments of pure sweetness scattered into every day to ensure this doesn’t happen…

Ella is nearly 5 months old, which doesn’t seem that old when I write it down but encompasses – literally – her whole lifetime, so feels a lot longer than a normal 5 months would. When she was little(r), she struggled to fall asleep unless I was holding her – but if I held her she slept peacefully for hours. Under 3 months you can’t form bad habits, so I held her a lot and it was so very precious… There’s nothing better than a newborn falling asleep on your chest.

But then she grew up (ha!) and we had to teach sleep habits and nap training and the extraordinary skill of being able to fall asleep on your own (which I really, really believe in). So now she sleeps in her cot, and actually won’t fall asleep if I lie down with her because she wants to play. This afternoon, though, she woke up a bit early from her nap and I carried her through to the kitchen and was pottering around with her in my arms and she fell asleep while I was holding her. I had a bunch of things I wanted to do, but instead of doing any of them I sat down and watched her sleeping. I felt the weight of her small but increasingly heavy body in my arms. I watched her snuffle and sigh and smile in her dreams. I breathed in the babyness of her, because oh heavens it is so fleeting…

And then Arthur called out from his room and she woke up, and we went in to see him and he was so delighted to see us. “I want to play with baby!” he said, and “we’re playing!” when really all she was doing was lying on the bed looking at him adoringly. This evening we had a picnic on the lawn – just the four of us – and Arty ran around us pretending to be a fireman and rescuing our imaginary cats from trees. It was so, so sweet.

And yes, it was surrounded by battles of wills and toddler negotiations before and after, and yes, Ella spat up most of her (green) dinner on me, but there are these moments of being a mom that are just so achingly sweet. They’re the fuel that keeps the parenting engine running.

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