|Lily at 3 days old (photo by Ruby)
I went to the maternal health nurse for Lily's two year old check up. Mostly it was guilt that drove me there. We hadn't been since she was 8 months old. I missed Grace's 4 year old check (and Nina's I think....). I have never filled in a baby book, or a memory book for any of them, but they do have their yellow or blue health nurse book, with their weights and heights - except Lil.
By the time she came along, they'd computerised the system at our local branch, and no longer filled out the books.
So I went to the nurse and she weighed and measured her and asked a few questions, questions which, to the new mother, can seem so laden with judgment even when none is intended ("does she eat well?", "how many words does she have", "when are you going to start toilet training?") and I realised something. I actually know what I'm doing.
I know that she could be eating more vegies, and that I let her have a whole Cornetto to herself tonight because everyone else was having one and I knew she'd kick up a fearsome stink if she missed out. I know that, for the fourth time, I weaned a child off the breast and created a bottle addict. I know that I've only just begun regularly reading to her and singing to her and I often just read whatever book I read last night because it's in the room, and I know that sometimes I don't brush her teeth because I've forgotten and then I can't be bothered dragging her back to the bathroom. I know that I've given her lollipops and let her watch TV with the other girls and transgressed in all sorts of ways that once I would not have countenanced.
And, mostly, I know that all these things really don't matter, and that she will be just fine. She'll get toilet trained at some stage, and she'll talk fluently sometime. She'll read and write and jump and run, most likely, and fight and whinge and bicker and laugh. She'll share reluctantly, and think things are unfair, and she'll get scared of the waves and then get confident again, and she'll sometimes be anxious and sometimes brave. She'll figure out she has it harder than some and easier than most. She'll learn about people and things and confront a different world than the one I know, and she'll make her way, some way or other. And she'll be loved, all her life, she'll be loved.