It's been a week of birthdays in our family, with my daughter Eve and sister Seanagh both blowing out the candles on their cakes in the last few days.
My big sister turned 47, although I took a lot of evil, gleeful, sibling pleasure in slapping an announcement on social media, wishing her a very happy 55th birthday. Is there ever a time when a younger sister stops being annoying to an elder sibling? Seanagh, having had to put up with me for 45 years, would no doubt say "no". Looking at it objectively, I'd have to agree.
My youngest, my baby, turned five, though I'm not quite sure how it can actually be possible that five years have passed since she made her first appearance.
Time is a very strange thing when you're a parent. It's hard to remember a time before this little person arrived into your world, swallowing up all your free moments, your thoughts and emotions, making your heart swell with love. Time also seems to speed up as your children grow, getting faster as they leave your side to start primary school and going by at a rate of knots once they hit the teenage years. If anyone figures out a way to slow these precious years down, please let me know.
When Eve was born, she appeared shouting and yelling and generally letting the world know she had arrived. Little chatterbox that she is, she hasn't got any quieter as time has gone on - something I'm very grateful for. At least, most of the time. Come back to me at 4am some morning when she's wakened me to ask me a question, like this week's top query: "Mummy, why are the roads always black? Why don't they make them rainbow coloured because that would make people happier as they drive to work and school?" I loved the idea, just not the early hour when she wanted to share it!
Little heads at that age are always buzzing, no matter what the hour. Old heads like mine, on the other hand, are only capable of a mild buzz after nine o'clock, and only then after copious amounts of caffeine.
It was bittersweet celebrating her birthday this week. We had a lovely little family party for her with just her daddy and me, her big brother and sister and her granny, who's in our little bubble.
We played pass the parcel and musical statues which she loved and, I have to say, I really enjoyed the latter myself, watching her granny unleash disco moves she'd learned in the 1970s.
But through it all, with the wrapping paper flying almost as high as her granny's legs, I couldn't help but feel she was being robbed of the party she should have been having, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions.
I absolutely understand and appreciate the need for the rules we've been living under. It's just that with my other children, that first year in primary school marked the first time they had a great big birthday get-together with their friends. Up until their fifth birthday, parties were always something that we did at home with just the family.
Given the size of our family, they were never small affairs, with grandparents and even great-grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins thrown into the mix.
But their first birthday after starting school was a different affair.
We'd book a kids' activity centre nearby and invite everyone from the class along. Just once in my 14 years of being a parent did I make the mistake of holding one of these great gatherings in my own home - but the fear of trying to keep an eye on 30 young children, hyped up on excitement and sugary treats and the two-day clear up it took afterwards taught me not to try that experiment again.
The big class birthday party was yet another event my daughter missed out on this year.
So many normal rites of passage have been mothballed for us all but, if the last few months have taught me anything, it's that as long as we're able to be together, safe and healthy in our family bubble, enjoying a hug when others haven't been nearly so lucky, then there's really nothing to complain about.