February 07, 2011

On being seven

Our youngest, turned eight yesterday. By the afternoon of the day before, he had dragged all his bedding off his bed, to the hall, and announced he was going to try and sleep the rest of the day off, he just couldn't endure the fevered anticipation of his birthday and the few more hours he had to remain conscious, WAITING!

It kind of sums up what I have loved about him being seven, what I love about the age in general. He is so totally engaged in his immediate surroundings and yet is rapidly beginning to understand more of the wider world around of him, both how it works and what it will and does demand of him. This year he has grown up so much, gaining inches, suddenly and disconcertingly flashing ankle where only a few weeks before trouser hung. But he has grown up in so many other ways too - learning new, important skills like swimming unaided, riding a bike, joined-up handwriting, tying his own laces, making his own bed - little by little gaining the skills and confidences to be that bit more independent.

It all makes me want to both burst with pride but also ponder, with a sudden need to swallow some strange surge of loss, how fast childhood runs, helter skelter down the staircase, and out the front door, without hardly a backward glance. I feel that my role of being a mother to young children is to reassure a lot of the time, make sure they feel loved, increasing capable and confident and able to stand on their own two feet when they need to. And yet when they do all those things, the very things I have hoped they will, I feel...a tinge of loss - how wierd!

I suppose I am realising that giving them roots is the easy part, giving them wings is more complicated because when they use them, it is away from the nest and swooping off into their future. Truly I need to embrace this, celebrate and encourage their flight, because nothing is sadder than a clingy, needy mother, nothing. So this year, with children ranging from seventeen to eight years old, I look change in its bright and hopeful face, cup it in my hands, kiss it on the cheek and tell it to be kind to my kids as they run out the door. And at the same time, I pledge to myself to relish every moment of our children's time with us, savour it and build a warm blanket of memories that will protect them, and us, when the world is harsh. Possibly, no probably, I will fail, at 7.59am when we are running late for the school bus, but the will to savour is there!


  1. He's a long way yet from needing to use those developing wings to fly, Belinda! Of course, you are perfectly right! Time passes all too quickly and I think it does so even more quickly with the youngest..but the secret is, as you've said, to enjoy each and every moment! Save the heartache for when they really do leave home. You still have a good few years with your little boy before that happens :)

    How endearing that he gets so very excited about his birthdays! Proof you've made each one special and memorable.

  2. Desiree, wise words as ever! I think because our eldest is 17 this year, learning to drive and all that, Finn's 8th birthday yesterday just brought home how fast it is all whizzing by at the moment!

  3. I remember crying my eyes out, through the hormonal rages of baby blues when I had my first, at the thought of him one day having to leave home. It's the one relationship in life where you train the person to leave you.

    I'm not sure it is possible to stop those feelings of intense caring for our children, but perhaps it is possible to hide the feelings better.

    My eldest is ten so I still have a way to go but it makes me feel so sad at the thought of them growing up. Happy and proud....but sad.


  4. Sarah, training children to leave us - that is the exact conundrum of the heart! Thanks for understanding my strange little maternal outburst!!

  5. A lovely post, and one that brought back memories of just the same feelings. Seven was a lovely age, and then suddenly my eight-year-old's teacher knew so much more than me!

    I do sometimes wonder if the turbulent teen years that follow are designed to help us parents to acknowledge that, along with the sadness and poignancy of losing our youngsters to independent adulthood, we are getting ready to ease off the pedals too, and rediscover those parts of our lives that went on the back burner for so long? I know how tired I was by the time mine was 18!

  6. It would be lovely to control the speed of time as it does fly by at the most furious pace but you're right, all we can do is enjoy our precious time at home with our children.

  7. Congratulations! And what a fabulous picture of life without training wheels or stabilizers depending on the language we're speaking.

  8. I had similar feelings just the other week when I realised SmallerBean was no longer a toddler, let alone a baby. Fleeting thoughts flashed through my head about another baby. Reason and logic say to let go of that stage and be happy with where the Smalls are and where they are going.

    Happy Birthday 8 Year Old. Great bike riding.


  9. Gosh reading this has made me feel very emotional. You've written beautifully. I LOVE the last picture, it feels like it sums up your attitude-cheering your children on as they ride out into independence. Beautiful family. Xxx

  10. What a timely read. I have an almost 17 year old daughter. She would like to go to college on the other side of the US. She has an entire year of school before she goes but it will take every minute of every day from now until then to ready myself. It is evident by your post that you are in the right frame of mind for parenting in the here and now! Wonderful. I loved the photo of your husband raising his arms in celebration as your son took off on his own. If I weren't in a coffee shop, it would have brought tears to my eyes!

  11. My 'comment' wont work at the mo...so just to say I had shed envy too!

    Regarding your post, lovely photo of your little man cycling off on his own. So poignant. I cried when my little boy said he didn't need me to read to him anymore (not in front of him, obviously, that would have been tragic...)

  12. Rachel, it is definitely a process isn't it, my 16 year old spends so much time with his good friends now, we are getting used to seeing less of him, I guess we evolve with them, and they teach us, some of the time!

    VS, it is just so easy to forget to cherish the moments isn't it?

    A in B, glad you like the photos, they do tell a bigger story don't they?

    Lilacs, those moments go to the core, don't they, and yet we know they will happen. Funny thing, parenthood.

    A, do we just have to let the seasons of their childhood take their course, and enjoy the priviledge of witnessing it all??

    Alice, your comments always leave me feeling so encouraged - you have the gift. Thank you.

    Sarah, I think we learn as much about ourselves in all this, as they do about themselves - all a huge learning curve for me! I hope your daughter finds just the right place for the next phase of her life.

    Lilacs, those moments go right to the core don't they? Yet we know they will happen, funny thing parenthood, but wonderful!

  13. Happy birthday to your little one too. Seven is so grown up and yet not in a weird way.

    I always have in the back of my mind that no matter how far they spread their wings I will always be there, waiting for them - home.

    take care,

    Nina xxx

  14. Tell you what though; the principles remain the same throughout life. My youngest has just become a father himself at 32. And I'm still behind him and his wife, encouraging, supporting, making them feel secure and confident..... just like watching him learn to ride a bike! And the important thing is still taking my hands off and letting them do it their way.

  15. Hi Belinda - I am kinda heartened that you have the same mild panic at the advancing years of your child! I am not sure what it means; half of me is delighted as they are so lovely to watch as they grow and so much easier than babies. But the other half is mournful as the time just went to fast I feel like I almost missed it! Crazy - I am sure this will pass for me...let's hope! Lou x