“Seven months now!” (Said with usual tone of exclamation, as if the passing of time is normally an impossibility).
It was a fairly standard opener to any conversation these days. And then dad to one-year-old Millie simply replied “I don’t remember Millie being that age. I suppose I won’t remember her being at this stage soon either.” Nothing like a bit of matter-of-factness. I was reminded of this conversation on
the way home from visiting a friend and her new baby on Sunday. I have to confess at this point to participating in one of those parent dialogues which endlessly compare their baby with others: “Was little G like that at two months? I don’t remember her head being that floppy. Wasn’t she more alert? I’m sure she was heavier than that!”
But no. Little G wasn’t some child genius that defied the normal developmental pattern. It’s just that as I look at her now it’s hard to remember the details of earlier phases. And it hit me why the favourite phrase to use in a congratulations card is to “enjoy every minute!” At the time the pressure to ‘enjoy every minute’ had me shaking my head, fuming, blood pressure rising, tears forming readily: Had they forgotten what it was like to have a newborn baby?! My usual (reasonably) level-headed, if not a little ‘glass half empty’, attitude was buried under a pile of raging hormones that had me bursting into tears at the arrival of a bouquet of flowers and hiding under a duvet on the sofa at the unbearable thought of having to get up through the night once again to do feeds. How can you enjoy every minute?!!!
Whilst I will now never tell a new mum to enjoy every minute, the busyness and blur of playing the parenting game does mean things bypass you, or you forget them. In life you remember the big events: family gatherings, favourite holidays, weddings, adventures, achievements, firsts. But in the post-baby months the weeks drift by in a haze of naps, nappies, baths, baby groups, banging beakers (the latest craze at our house), tears, tummy time, weaning, whining and washing. The firsts come thick and fast and are quickly superseded. Essentially, there is a lack of big events to create specific memories.
I realise now that the little moments are the big events of baby days: big because of the strength of the emotions involved, rather than the actions. I need to slow down, observe, imprint these in memory – and enjoy them. So my October resolution is to do just this. I started last night. As I put little G back in her cot after a (so-called) dream feed, I watched as she sleepily reached out to grab for the soft toy we have been giving her to develop as a comforter, rubbed Raspberry Rabbit on her face, and drifted off to sleep.
A good start. As for imprinting these moments to memory though, no promises. All I can say is thank goodness for smart phones with video cameras, for my sleep-deprived brain needs all the technological assistance it can get.