I look at Aoife and I am shocked at how grown up she has become.
Not just physically but in her attitude too.
How have I missed it happening right in front of me?
I hold my hands up, it’s entirely my fault.
I haven’t paid enough attention to her.
Before you rush off to call social services, I haven’t chosen Seth as my favourite and cast her aside.
I love both of my children, with every fibre in my being (though there are times when one will edge in front of the other).
Yet still I feel I’ve neglected her.
I don’t shun her, I don’t mistreat her, I don’t starve her.
I am always there for hugs and kisses and chats but maybe not as quickly as I should be.
I’ve mentioned many times before, Seth is a ‘handful’.
For a very long time he was, and sometimes still is, terribly demanding.
At school pick up I give her a kiss and ask about her day, with half an eye on Seth who’s either rolling on the floor or trying to escape.
My full attention isn’t on her.
She has to wait, just a minute.
Just before bed when she’s tired, she’ll cuddle into me on the couch.
Seth sees and forces himself between us.
He sits on my chest, my head, anywhere to try and wedge himself in.
He just wants in on the hugs, I tell him to move to the other side.
He refuses and uses brute force.
She is the one who ends up moving, just a minute, until he’s bored.
At bedtime they’re allowed a story each.
Seth will shout for a drink and story – right now.
Aoife waits, just a minute, before it’s her turn.
She will play with one of her toys and he will take it off her.
If she says no, he shouts and gets aggro.
She gives it to him, just a minute, to stop him going on.
Don’t get me wrong, they absolutely adore one another but she is often sacrificing what she wants for Seth.
She always has to wait that little bit longer because of him.
And so, I realise, she has stopped wanting quite so much. She is just dealing with herself because we are too busy with him.
She makes herself a drink now rather than wait just a minute. That’s very grown up but when did it happen?
She has stopped coming for cuddles quite so often now, and will sit at the table colouring by herself.
All those minutes, she just had to wait have added up and she has become that little bit older.
A little more grown up.
A little less reliant on me.
I know children grow quickly – blink and you’ll miss it – but I’m so cross with myself that it’s my fault that I’ve missed it.
I feel like I’ve let her down by not being more ‘present’.
Luckily Seth seems to be calming down a lot now but I really need to make more time for Aoife.
I need to make sure she doesn’t feel she HAS to grow so fast.
I want her to be my little girl for
ever a few years more yet.