If you – when Ella was three months old – had knocked on my front door, let yourself in, sat me down on the couch and told me that one day soon, the fun would outweigh the hard, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. If you’d said one day really, really soon it will seem like a whole lot less work and a whole lot more good, I promise — just hang in there, I might have nodded my head and smiled weakly. But I most probably would have been thinking, Sister, that’s all well and good but I DON’T THINK SO. And while you’re here, can you help me find my pants?
While I would never say I suffered post-natal depression, I’d be lying if I said I experienced the first year of Ella’s life with bounding joy and happiness. There were blissful moments, sure, but to me, it just seemed like a never-ending blur of sacrifice and self-doubt and fatigue and anger and boredom and shock. I didn’t have the foresight to indulge in the fantasy of treasure hunts and make-believe and first I-love-you’s and Halloween pumpkin carving parties. I just didn’t know.
I do now.
I know what it’s like to stay up late, decorating the house with pumpkins and spider webs.
I know what it’s like to plan scavenger hunts and make costumes and bake teeny tiny cupcakes.
I know what it’s like to create a world of play and imagination for tiny people and I know how it feels to sit back and watch little eyes widen with excitement.
I know what it’s like to have that part of me come alive – that wonder-filled part where life is suspended for a few hours in the glorious world of pretend – the part of me which only children can ignite.
I know how it feels to watch the joy and hear the laughter and I know what it’s like to think, My kid. I’m filling her memory bank with all of this.
On Saturday, we had our first annual Halloween Pumpkin Carving party. And just for the record, Japanese pumpkins carve just as well as the special Jack-o-Lantern ones and they are a quarter of the price.
Trying to get a witch’s hat to stay on a toddler is near impossible, so just pretend she’s wearing one.
After everyone left, we stayed with our neighbours in the rubbish-strewn, pumpkin-scattered backyard eating pizza and planning our trick-or-treating night. I was heavy-eyed and exhausted, but as I looked around at the scene before me – happy kids, laughter and a golden setting sun – my heart was as full as I could ever imagine it to be as I thought, so this is what my friends meant when they sat me down on that couch all that time ago. These are the days. When the fun overrides the work. When I can lose myself in the magic of childhood. When I can thank my lucky stars she even landed her sweet little body into our outstretched arms.