I now have children of seven and four.
Back when Katie was a baby, I used to daydream wistfully of the days when my children would have reached interesting fun ages like – say – six and three. I looked forward to that so much. I would be able to have proper conversations with them! Hear their ideas about things! Do interesting stuff with them! Oh, I had one child who'd reached that sort of age, and that was good, and I was thrilled to have my second child, my family complete – but, still, I looked forward to having a six and a three-year-old as some sort of distant Mecca.
So, I gritted my teeth and hung on in there through the night feeds and the insane toddler stage and the toilet training, plus all the good bits (and there were lots of those along the way, don't get me wrong – they just somehow seemed to be mere floating bits of debris to grab at in an overwhelming torrent of exhaustion and frustration and boredom), and the years went by. And I made it. I got to the point where I had a six-year-old and a three-year-old. Throughout the year, every so often, I would stop for a moment to think to myself in awe – this is it. This is the future I longed for, dreamed of, during those exhausting days and broken nights. I'm actually here.
And you know what? It didn't disappoint. Oh, parts of it weren't exactly what I'd expected – I hadn't anticipated quite so many monologues on Super Mario, or so much time sitting on bathroom floors while my daughter used the toilet (I hadn't realised that some children insist on company in the bathroom even after they're technically quite able to manage for themselves). But I do indeed now have two children who can hold conversations with me or with each other, who go to school or nursery respectively and come home having done interesting stuff totally independent of me, who have thoughts and opinions and disagreements and are not afraid to voice them (volubly). Two fascinating little minds unfolding as I watch. Six and three was a really, really good year.
And now we're on to the next stage. Seven and four was the kind of Nirvana I didn't even dare to have more than fleeting dreams of – children that old? Seriously, did I dare believe that was ever going to happen? No freakin' way! It was just too good a life to dare to picture, mired in struggling with a baby and a three-year-old. And now I'm there. My son is seven, my daughter – as of today – is four. The year's adventures lie in wait.