Last week my youngest child (and 50% of my inspiration for starting After Alice) turned 7 years old. A distinct milestone that allows me to see how far we have travelled in these years that at times have felt both painstakingly slow and yet bewilderingly, bizarrely fast. I am starting to realise more and more that parenthood isn't about the big gestures, the grandiose statements on the birthdays and anniversaries. It is the million little acts of care, scattered throughout the year, that often no one sees, that add up to the love you have for your child.
ALL those bloody packed lunches (and the evil twin that returns at the end of the day in the tupperware box). The hunt, every morning, for the right colour school hairband. Placing the sausage barrier between the beans and the rest of the plate, without being asked. Buying those particular socks that don't have the seams. Running ahead and turning on lights to flush out the monsters before bedtime. Horrifying yourself over the sugar content in a fruit corner as you freeze in the supermarket aisle. Not forgetting the talc for the swimming hat. Stroking the hair of a sleeping child and whispering your goodnight. Saying the same phrase on loop, hopefully calmly, every day for weeks, sometimes years in the hope that one day it will become a life-long habit.
A never-ending, sometimes overwhelming labour of love. And of course, I wouldn't change a bit.