Have you heard the one about spoiling your children by carrying them too much?
I've heard it a lot over the last few years, both overtly and also from people telling me the wisdom of their own parenting approach in very pointed tones as if it might lead to an epiphany where I throw out my slings while bemoaning the fact that my children will never learn to walk.
I'm still waiting for that particular epiphany, which means I have carried on carrying on; particularly Miss Olive who is by far my most attached child. She does NOT like to be held by anybody who isn't me (or papa bear at a push) and she is not shy about sharing that with the judicious use of NOISE.
In many ways that has been a curse to me, as well as a blessing.
The hardest thing I do every day is to walk out of the door on my way to work. The blow is softened by the elder children pinned to the bedroom window waving me off, but it’s still heart wrenching to hear Miss Olive wailing at the injustice of being separated from me.
“I feel the same baby girl” I tell her in my head and wave furiously at the children until I am out of sight.
Conversely, my second favourite moment of the day* is walking back through the door and having three pocket sized zombies tear arsing across the house to launch themselves at my legs.
Once those first few moments of welcome are over, Miss Olive demands to be picked up and I am more than happy to oblige. Wearing her is a very literal act of connection which is usually sound tracked by the gentle “mpph, mpph” noises that always seem to go along with her getting cosy.
It benefits us to have that cuddle time in the same way it benefits Alfie to describe his latest project to me at a million miles an hour; or Esme to share her latest “favourite” thing with a goofy smile. And just like those moments, this need to be physically connected is a fleeting moment in Olive’s life.
I was treated to a taste of quite how fleeting at the weekend when Miss Olive and I went to her very first birthday party.
Sitting with another mama, I kept a weather eye on an unusually curious toddler as she bimbled along, taking in the other guests and occasionally checking back in with me in case I had abandoned her.
She was completely and entirely her own little girl; composed and assured.
It was the first of many bitter-sweet moments for me; watching my timid little girl finally pulling on her brave boots and plucking up the courage to walk away from me.
The same child, who hides her head in the crook of my neck when anyone offers their arms, in her own time, and in her own way, took herself on an adventure leaving in her wake a very proud, and slightly dejected mama.
* My favourite moment, should you be interested, is snuggling into a fuzzy little toddler neck as I fall asleep.