A few weeks ago, my little boy turned 18 months old. It seems unreal to me that he’s been around that long. That I am a year and a half into the best and most challenging job* I’ve ever had.
When he was born, this point seemed so ridiculously far away that I couldn’t even begin to imagine it. I was so absorbed by the moment – not, I should add, in some miraculous achievement of mindfulness, but because it was all I could do. My brain and body were so entirely taken over by what was happening then, at that moment. Oh, he needs feeding; oh, he needs a nappy change; oh, my boobs are leaking; oh he needs a feed – ah, he’s sleeping. Oh… (repeat, repeat, repeat).
Thinking beyond that was just too much. I still find it difficult to imagine future Sorens. A Soren that can talk, or read, or ride a bike. It feels odd to, when the Sorens that I have known and loved already – the cooing, waggly armed, wriggly 3 month old; the smiley, avocado-mushing 6 month old; the charming, almost crawling, cheeky faced 9 month old; the obsessively almost-walking, grinning 12 month old – were here for such a short time. I already miss them, when I look at the photos of him at that age.
I can’t imagine a future Soren; I’m too stuck on this one that’s here right now. He seems perfect (if, let’s be honest, fairly annoying at times. I’m not being mean… He’s a toddler, it sort of goes with the territory).
Life with this Soren – loving, funny, determined, 18 month old Soren – is a mixture of moments of sheer joy and moments of utter desperation.
I love the way he often wakes up saying “miiaaaooww.” It’s inexplicable and adorable. When he’s not saying “miaow” he says “brrrrrrm” and “uh-oh!” and “wooooaaw” and occasionally (and with increased frequency) “No?” with an almost mocking rising inflection (which I blame on his dad, and his Orcadian-ism).
He loves diggers, and anything with wheels, which he can spot regardless of how tiny the illustration or how far away the vehicle.
He loves being outside and splashing in puddles and will pull your arm off trying to walk you in their direction.
He’s a big fan of bread baked with cranberries and cashews, toasted, for breakfast (the former get chomped, the latter end up on the floor).
He’s generous with cuddles; everything gets a cuddle: inanimate object, cuddly toy, person. Oh, the cuddles.
He loves hearing The Grand Old Duke of York, and music in general; his funny little heavy-bummed squat dance makes my heart want to burst.
I know before too long he’ll have changed again, and there’ll be a whole new set of things to try and understand and Soren-isms to love.
Before I had him, I was naively convinced that I wouldn’t change. I thought he would fit right in to mine and Kris’s life and we’d just carry on, three instead of two. I suppose part of that was a form of self preservation, in that I felt a bit apprehensive about what any change would mean.
But I did change; he changed me, and I’m so glad. I feel like a different person now: so much more determined, so much more aware of time and how precious it is, so much stronger and, most of the time, so much more happy.
Of course it’s also bloody hard at times. Especially the times when it’s just us for long periods. Then, I often feel more stressed, more rage and more hopeless than I ever have or thought possible. When that happens, reaching out to friends and family is hugely important in how I deal with the relentlessness of it all. So, too, is remembering the good bits, and how fleeting time with our little people really is.
Parenting so far has been a massive learning curve and I realise that it’s not just Soren who is constantly adapting and trying to learn new skills. Patience, when all you want to do is scream and hurl things, for example, is one that I’ve (almost) mastered.
So. Here’s to you, little 18 month old man. May you keep on growing and changing for the better. I’ll try and do the same, too.
* It’s DEFINITELY not the worst. That is an unfortunate tie between night shift in a fish processing factory and working in a call centre for the Ministry of Defence. Actually, you can throw in working for JD Sports in there too. Grizzly.