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"My biggest parenting regret, so far."

“Enjoy every second.”

“It goes so fast, doesn’t it?”

“Don’t blink. You’ll miss it.”

If you had said anyone of these things to me anytime from when I fell pregnant for the first time in 2010 to about three weeks ago, I would have nodded politely while scoffing at you behind your back.

I was in the trenches. Nothing like a 3-year-old and a newborn to make you feel like sometimes life is just, well, plain hard work. Sure, there are moments of joy between the never ending mountain of laundry and the toddler tantrum. But pretty much anyone saying, “enjoy every second” was about one minute away from being handed a baby with a number 2 nappy to ‘enjoy’.

But something changed recently.

I swapped out my son’s cot quilt for a proper sized quilt on his bed and all of a sudden I was reminded that he’s a grown-up boy now.

A big boy, in a big boy bed with a big boy quilt. Image supplied.

He turned four and had a birthday party where the boys sort of did their own thing rather than being supervised by the parents.

My baby has started to sit up and looks to be about to crawl. She’s our second and final child. There are no more babies for us.

I was walking back from the park with them last weekend and my boy asked me if he could run ahead. I said yes, because nothing makes me chuckle to myself more than watching his knobbly knees and duck feet as he canters ahead on the footpath.

But he didn’t stop at the corner, despite me shouting at him to stay where I could see him. He ran all the way home.

He wouldn’t have been out of my sight for more than 45 seconds.

But for 45 seconds, my child was completely unsupervised for the first time in his whole entire existence.

Like running into a brick wall, for the first I was hit with the fact that this is it. He’s growing up and gradually he will grow away from me.

For the first time, I felt genuine regret at my decision to work.

My eldest went to childcare when he was 13 weeks old, and the baby when she was 14 weeks. I love my babies more than anything in the world, but I need to work. I am just not satisfied at home, and I am a better mother for it, frankly.

The baby is never going to fall asleep on me like this again. Image supplied.

I have never felt guilty about going to work. I have never felt a pang dropping them off at childcare each day. They are beautifully cared for by wonderful women who are, frankly, more qualified than I am.

Except for now.

Did I blink? Have I missed it?

Did I not drink in enough of their babyness? Or do all mothers, working or not, feel like this when they come to their end of their baby years?

How did you feel when you finished having babies?