It’s funny the way that my own childhood seemed to stretch on for a lifetime, year after year after year as I waited to grow up, and yet these babies are becoming children in what seems to be the blink of an eye. Every weekend, they seem changed to me; their vocabularies expanded, skill sets enhanced, more physically confident than the last Sunday upon which I hugged them goodnight, smoothed their hair and promised them and myself that the week would fly. Every Saturday morning they surprise me, I find myself exclaiming over things that, to Kirsty, are old news.
Balthazar, my little Zaza, my Zoo, has become a chatterbox. He introduces himself to perfect strangers – “I Zaza” – and follows on with an introduction to each of his siblings, his mummies, his dog, and a vivid description of his day. Lysander, sweet, funny Sasha, has developed such a sense of humour; he will do anything to make us laugh. He is clever and resourceful, just this week he brought one of his ride-on toys into the house in order to use it like a step to access the fruit bowl. We were horrified to notice one single bite taken from every last piece of fruit! He told us that it was a ‘bit funny’ and when we protested, qualified that it was just a ‘LITTLE bit funny’. We couldn’t argue with that! He’ll be sorry when I replace the apples, pears, plums and bananas with lemons…
As for the girls, Embla is very much ‘the baby’. She is comfortable on all-fours and pulling herself up to stand, joyously conversant in baby babble, and very much Kirsty’s girl. They have always had a special bond and it continues to be strong; she will come to me happily, but is even happier to be handed back to mama! And Olympia, my sweet Polly, is determined not to be a baby at all. She has slept through the night for months, is an unsteady but determined walker, and nothing makes her laugh harder in the world than playing with her brothers. She chases after them constantly, and is delighted when they include her in their games.
We have been tremendously fortunate in the way that our sons have embraced big-brotherhood. There has been little jealousy and so much enthusiasm for their small sisters, not to mention a great deal of patience when it comes to sharing their loved ones, their toys and even their food. They love each other. And the girls love them too. Embla would, I think, make a perfectly happy firstborn baby, but Olympia thrives on spending time with those boys. Everything they do is hilarious, from playing with their train tracks (she likes to sit in the middle and pluck the train off of the line) to jumping on the sofa cushions.
Once upon a time, don’t laugh, I wanted to have just one child. And whilst I think that it would have been perfectly magnificent to have a little Octavia or a Cosmo, and to be able to take that one-and-only about with me far more portably than I manage to wrangle my four-and-a-dog, I cannot help but feel a little glad that fate intervened and gave us twins, and that Kirsty and I looked at our bouncing baby boys and thought what’s one more.
And now we have four children. Four! At times I feel as though I am drowning under the weight of responsibility – so many to feed, so many to clothe, to house, to teach their alphabetic and times-tables and right from wrong. And yet when I think about it in the dark of the night, in the peace and the quiet between Emmy falling asleep and Emmy howling for food, I cannot help but feel that this is It, this is how it is supposed to be, me and her and this gaggle of children and oh, one day, what’s one more.
They are my joy.
Once, before they were born, I worried that I would struggle to love them if they weren’t ‘enough’: if they held separate interests to my own, if they were difficult, if they were different. I worried that I would favour one above the other. Now I know that maternal love is all-encompassing; I know that the difficult ones just make you love them a little bit harder, that the struggles make that moment of connection at the end of a difficult week all the more beautiful, that your babies can turn you inside-out and stretch you into somebody you will hardly recognise. I had no idea that motherhood would transform me into something better, that my own children would be my fairy godmothers. I had no idea how much I needed them until they were here.
They put the magic in my world. And I am so glad for each and every one of them, for this time in our lives. I am so grateful for every sleep-deprived five-am Saturday morning wake-up, for each shrieking chase through the woods, for the laughter, even the tears.
I just want to record these moments forever. To keep them close forever.
We are so tremendously fortunate to have these people. Balthazar, Lysander, Embla, Olympia.
(And oh, one day, maybe, what’s one more?)