Susie has given herself a little treat

One of my BBC Look East colleagues brought her new baby Macy into work the other day, and I had a long cuddle with the beautiful little bundle. I absolutely adore babies and remember that time with my two as very special.

I have conveniently glossed over the bone-aching fatigue, the feeling of failure at breastfeeding and the endless sterilising of bottles. “Why don’t we foster babies?” I said to Alex that evening. His face was a picture. “And how are we going to fit that in?”, he asked incredulously.

Alex does not remember the baby stage as fondly as me. Maybe because he was in charge of pureeing - a thankless task that involves most of your hard work ending up on the floor or the walls.

While I know that he misses the stage when offspring think their parents are THE BEST, this nostalgia is outweighed by the positive that at least they can now feed themselves solid food.

But he does have a very good point.

We do have enough on our plate, with two new stages heading our way in this parenting “journey”. In the next couple of years, one of our children hopes to be heading off to university, and the other will be starting secondary school. On top of that I am juggling my BBC job with being back at uni myself. There isn’t a lot of time for babies in the mix.

Maybe my decision to return to studying is partly a reaction to the acceptance that the ‘Secret Service’ phase of parenting is over. This is the stage where you need to have eyes on the child at all times.

Now they are more independent, I can make space to do something for me. My Masters in Psychodynamic Counselling is a present to myself - something I have wanted to do for decades.

It’s also come at a time when I really want to stretch my brain, in the awareness that nothing - mentally or physically - is working quite as well as it used to.

Academic learning is exercising muscles that don’t get regular use in my newsroom job. In daily journalism, I have to think fast, react quickly and know a little about a lot; In my counselling studies, I have to look at things in depth, dwell on ideas and analyse over time.

There is a joy in being able to study a subject, take up a new sport or spend time on something you are fascinated in, whatever age you are. And, of course, you appreciate it even more if you are doing it later in life.

It doesn’t matter what it is - I have a friend the same age as me who has recently graduated with a degree in fine art, another who has re-trained for a new career as a mediator, and another who is taking lessons in ballroom dancing. Even Alex, he of the “no spare time”, is planning to do evening classes in Italian. It’s all about stimulation: a stimulated middle age brain is a far more content one!

Of course, I can’t partake in the full student experience in the way I hope my daughter will, as I have another life to hurry back to. Attending Uni open days has made me excited about what lies ahead for her - spreading her wings, finding her own tribe and the chance to mix work and play in a way that she never will again. It is a time of huge growth, change and, most importantly, fun.

It’s also a time of great change for me. Mixed in with that excitement is a dawning realisation that my baby is soon to fly the nest. Maybe that is why I am being drawn to babies again. I will have to book in more cuddles with Macy.