And I think when you first become a parent, the sloughing off of that skin - the before-you to become the now-you is painful and at once immediate and lengthy. Some days your new life is so all consuming that you can't remember the before. And then other times the reminders are all too real - rubbing at raw skin like shoes on a blister.
But with the benefit of hindsight - 20/20 as ever - I can look back on the adventure of the last 3 years and say that having kids/parenthood is not an either/or situation. Yes, things change massively. In ways that you cannot predict or expect. But it's a bit like the path not taken rather than the path left behind.
For everything you give up, you gain something. It's different, it's like comparing apples and oranges. One isn't better than the other, it's just different. You might sacrifice sunny friday afternoons in the pub....for sunny afternoons in the park. Your child shrieking with pleasure, sunshine on your skin, kisses sweet on your cheek. Pure happiness either way.
For every missed holiday, festival, drunk night out, there is discovery of new places, seeing the world afresh, enjoying company with someone who only wants to be with you. Whose life is complete with their little hand in yours, experiencing it all with you.
A bus ride, a sight of a train station, a digger. Mud on the ground, a pebble, the cinema. Foamed milk in a coffee cup, croissants, chocolate. Grass stains, sand between your toes, skin slick with sun cream - that holiday fresh scent.
Even with all the lost evenings, the missing chunks of sleep, the bags under my eyes have come cuddles with a boy and his bunny. Bedtime stories, traditions, comfort, fitting into a new persona that can be hard, like trying on a slightly too tight dress. But then it settles down and fits.
And this is it, acceptance. I miss the person I was before Toddler45, but she's gone. And in her place I have a new me and I have Toddler45. Not better, not worse. Just different. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Tonight, as i put Toddler45 to bed, he said "Mummy, I'm glad you're here".......so you know, i'll take that :)
Thank you and goodnight,
Stupidgirl has left the building