This Diary of Motherhood is a series of weekly letters to my first baby, my little son who I call Baby Bird. I know not everyone wants to read about the highs and lows of motherhood so you can read non-baby related posts about travel, writing, freelancing or Amsterdam instead. Alternatively read one of my short stories or check out some book reviews and recommendations.
Dear Baby Bird,
This coming week will see you turn six months old. Six months. Six months. I've been tossing the word around in my head now for a few weeks. trying it on for size. I honestly don't know how I feel about you reaching this milestone. I don't know how I feel about having a six month old baby. I don't know how I feel knowing you'll never be as young, as small, as helpless, as dependent on me as you are right now. As someone who is very good at (and possibly a little too occupied with) identifying, analysing and expressing my feelings and emotions, it's disconcerting to not know exactly whether I'm proud or ashamed, happy or sad, regretful for the past or excited for the future. No one emotion rises above them all for long enough for me to cling to it and put it down in words or to even get remotely familiar or comfortable with it.
Maybe it's because I feel it all.
I've often thought that over the last six months, and I find myself singing Feist's "I Feel It All" song to myself because I do feel all these different difficult and delicious things as a mum, with new sensations popping their way into my life every single day of every single week. This weekend I felt amazed and lucky that you had a two hour nap - something you've not done since your earliest weeks. Last week I felt proud that you were calm and content during a busy day being out and about with your aunty and uncle visiting from Australia. The last few nights I've felt frustrated and confused by you as you reverted back to waking up every 2-3 hours, screeching and refusing to calmly go back to sleep unless in my arms.
While your unpredictability, I suspect, is going to be a constant feature in our lives for some time - arguably forever - there are some things that six months of your life have cemented, solid and strong.
At six months, I definitely feel like a mum. Those new shoes I referred to in week five are now soft and comfortable, albeit not exactly footwear that goes with everything in my life; there's still some adjustments to be made for them to suit every single outfit I like to wear. But they will. Unlike a few months back, I now know that I can and will adapt to this huge change in my life and its repercussions.
At six months, I believe that you know I'm your mum and you are happy about this. Sometimes when you're in my arms, a little tired or just in need of some quiet time, and I'm talking to someone opposite me or reading a book, my gaze and mind occupied by something else, I catch you staring at me out of the corner of my eye. Your big brown eyes are fixed on mine and you don't look away once I lock mine to yours. We stay like that for several seconds, until you or I crack a smile at which point you move on to looking at something else. You could be thinking any of a hundred different thoughts but I like to think most of the time it's simply, "That's my mum. That's my mum."
At six months, I watch you with your father and I can almost see this relationship unravel. I get a sense that your connection will be simpler and easier than ours. Based on play, and laughter and learning, aside from taking care of you, your dad simply wants to share good things with you. I wish I could define our relationship in such uncomplicated terms; and yet I am also glad I can't, because the mysterious, undefinable, love-soaked depths of our bond is what makes it so very, very precious.
At six months, you are only a few weeks, possibly days, away from sitting up all by yourself.
At six months, when on your front, you have started to push up your bum and hold your head up on straightened arms, the first little twitches of you learning to crawl.
At six months, you love nothing more than watching people, children especially. When I pick you up from daycare I can see how even after eight hours with these kids, you still just want to sit there or lie at their feet, watching what these hyperactive two and three year olds get up to.
At six months, you're really not that interested in solid food yet, though the faces you pull as you taste it for the first time are worth it to keep trying.
At six months, you're starting to get attached to things, remembering where you dropped them or whimpering when they're out of your reach.
At six months, you have unexpectedly reverted back to wanting a lot of closeness and cuddles. Skin-on-skin time was the only thing that soothed you when you woke screaming in your sleep two nights ago. Could this be the start of the attachment phase?
At six months, you're still kicking our butts by not sleeping longer than 4 hours on a good night (2-3 on an average night) and rarely napping for longer than thirty minutes.
At six months, I'm exhausted, broken and weak. I often feel like much of my life is still on hold. Forgive me, but at six months I still occasionally mourn the woman I was before you.
At six months, my love for you is fierce and powerful. While the love I felt for you at your birth was instinctive, strong and bear-like, I now see how small it was. It makes today's love feel like a dragon, a sort of out-of-this-world, untameable creature that's going to grow and grow no matter what.
Again and again I've heard mothers say within months, weeks and occasionally days of their baby's arrival that they can't imagine what life would be like without them. Well, at six months, I can imagine what life would be like without you. I sometimes find myself physically yearning for it when I'm functioning on less than four hours sleep for the fifth night in a row and you're fighting me when it's time to take a nap.
But at six months of knowing you and raising you and loving you, I never, ever, ever want to experience life without you. Ever.
Happy six months Baby Bird! We've come so far, but we have a much longer way to go so let's keep on keeping on, shall we?
Your sleep-deprived, dragon-love-fuelled, I-don't-really-like-pureed-veg-either, crazy-in-love mother x
Frances M. Thompson
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