"Mama!" "Mama!" "Mama!"
Tonight I am home alone with the boys. Rich is away overnight for work and I have two little hot bodies in their fleecy sleep suits in my bed. And whilst I am frantically tapping away on the laptop, catching up after a day out working, I hear a familiar phrase.
Poor Sammy, our big boy, the boy who in the last year has grown 3 inches, challenges his right to independence every day, and brings me to breaking point as often as he melts my heart. Poor Sammy who still suffers from horrible dreams. And the only thing that helps is to be with his Mama.
I can count on one hand the number of nights Rich and I have shared our bed all night without a boy in the last month or so.
It's not about our needs, it's about theirs. And I know some may think we are being soft, we should march them back to their beds and not indulge their behaviour but I just don't agree. They are my babies. They are not going to be crying and asking me to be their hot water bottle when they are fifteen. They won't want to wrap their legs around mine at night, rub their freezing cold feet on my calves and snuggle in, because I am the only one who can make them feel safe.
It's a privilege to be woken up at 3am.
It's an honour to have someone depend on you and love you so unconditionally.
And I realise I may be on borrowed time. How many 6 year old boys call their mother Mama? I am going to hold onto mine for as long as possible. He's smart, he's wickedly funny, he's a sensitive and loving giant, wearing 8 year old clothes. He's challenging, he's feisty, his determination leaves me frustrated and infuriated at times, but I wouldn't change him.
He skips out of school. Yes skips! Runs into my arms shouting "Mama, Mama!" And as long as this period lasts I am going to embrace it. Whether I hear this cry at 3.20pm at the school gates or at 3.20am in the depth of the night.
They won't be babies for long. They are not really babies now, but they are my babies.
I watched them this afternoon playing frisbee in the garden. I was taking some photos for a photography client outside and I put the camera down to join them. We flung this old plastic frisbee they'd found at the bottom of the garden around and were laughing at how I couldn't throw it as well as them. (Yes that old trick of suddenly forgetting how to do something.) And he stopped the game to pick up a dandelion.
To make a wish. I grabbed the camera and snapped a photo. He said he was wishing really hard, really, really hard. And those cheeks all puffed with air just blew me away.
I have no idea what he was wishing for, but my baby, I wish I could just freeze time. To the time when you kiss me on the lips, you wrap yourself around me at night like a baby monkey, when you are in awe of my ability to sing in a Minion voice whilst watching Despicable Me, to when missing your assembly on Friday because I am working will make my heart ache.
I look at my Mum and I think you can't surely see us as your babies, now we have babies of our own. But she must. Because they will always be our babies.
Sleep well my darling. I'll be up in a minute for a big cuddle. And it's a wonderful thing to be your hot water bottle tonight.
I am in no rush for you to grow up just yet.