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,
I feel like the last few weeks of diary entries have been overwhelmingly sad. No, that's not the word. They've been really, really heavy.
Writing them weighed me down until they were finished. Then I felt an immediate light relief, releasing some of the bottled emotions I've corked inside me. But then reading them again - which I only occasionally do - reminds me of that weight again. So this week, because not all days are heavy or loaded with emotion, I'm going to celebrate the lightness you bring to my life. Especially recently.
This week so many good things happened. For one thing we got a hint at the little comedian you are. For some weeks now, after your bath, as your dad carries you wrapped up in a towel to your bedroom, he covers your face with a corner of the towel and then once settled on the changing mat, he pulls it off and says "Peekaboo!". If I'm there next to him, I'll also exclaim "Hello!" just as loudly. You smile at this, we do it a few more times, and then I get on to the increasingly hard job of trying to moisturise you as you decide to perform gymnastics on your mat.
One day this week your dad forgot to play that game. Most likely the consequence of a busy work day or his mind drifting off to think about what he wanted for dinner. But you didn't forget. Just as he lay you down, you pulled the end of the towel nearest you up and above your face and after a second you pushed it back down again. We both took a millisecond to catch on, then we called out "Peekaboo!" and "Hello!" the way we were supposed to and you laughed. Then you did it again. And again, and again. Until we were all laughing, tears resting in the bottom of my eyes, possibly your father's too. It was the first time we'd really seen you do something for us, to make us laugh, rather than the other way around which is what your father and I have pretty much spent the last nine months doing.
Now, your towel trick has become an ingrained part of our bedtime routine and it never fails to remind me how much more you are going to do in the near future. I try not to think about it, to ignore the stories of babies a little older than you dishing out high fives, waves and kisses like they have an endless supply, but I can't help but look forward to these moments so much. It's a little selfish, right? Isn't my love for you supposed to be unconditional? Hmmm, yes, I think is the answer, and I'm pretty sure it is, however, I can't deny how silly and hopeless I sometimes have felt singing to you, dancing for you, talking to you, only to get little more than a wet raspberry blown at me or a sharp yank of my hair in return. But I know this will change.... and soon. Even as I type this I can hear the quiet voice of me in the future saying, "Oh, Frankie, you have no idea how much this kid is going to entertain you... You have no idea.... Just you wait."
So I will wait. And I hope I can keep exclaiming "Hello!" just as enthusiastically as I have been for as long as you want to perform this your little trick.
This week was also wonderful because I wasn't sick. I may have felt tired and I may not have got as much work or writing done as I wanted but these are the kind of problems I yearned to have over the last few months. And with this new health and energy we held a little get-together at our house, welcoming some mum friends I've made recently and their babies and partners into our home. We spent the whole day together and it was lovely. We played with all your toys, ordered pizza, juggled babies' naptimes in your cot and discussed the many highs and lows of our limited experience of parenting at lengths. Finding these women has been a source of great reassurance and happiness for me, and I hope you too as you have these three other little ones to look at, to dribble on, steal toys from and maybe, if we're lucky, grow up with. The romantic in me wonders if you've already made some life long friends even in this first year of your life.
And today, I was supposed to cycle with you over to a friend's house for brunch, but the weather had different ideas and it rained almost all day, throwing in some hail for good measure too. So I chickened out. I cancelled and kept you indoors. There has followed a truly lazy day of lying in various positions on or around the sofa, watching you play and only occasionally squeezing a squeaky toy or stacking towers of blocks for you to knock over. And when it was nap time I took you into bed with me and I watched you sleep in the nook of my arm.
It's funny that in those moments when you leave me to go live in your dreams for a while, those are the moments I feel closest to you. These are the moments when I realise as clear as day just how much I love you and just how much I hope for you. In those moments when you are asleep (and quiet and calm and not wriggling away from me or screaming in my ear) I feel the full force of our connection. In just nine short months, you have become the person I am closest to in the world, and yet you won't remember a single second of the hours we've spent together to get to this point. Isn't that sort of crazy? i think it is... but in a brilliant, magical way.
Of course, today wasn't all smiles. As you slept and I watched you a small part of me wanted to feel guilty for how we'd spent today. You see, we didn't really do anything. I didn't plan or execute an activity for you. I didn't take you outside for some fresh air. I didn't do anything special with you. I don't think I even read more than a few books to you and we definitely had the telly on in the background. Not that I was watching it, it was just background noise. Instead I mostly just watched you be you and followed your lead, giving you cuddles, food and milk when you wanted it. Maybe that's why I'm ignoring that pessimistic part of me, and am instead focusing on the part of me that is celebrating what a good day it was. It was easy, unadventurous and therefore very comforting.
And entertaining, of course. Because right on cue after bathtime just now you pulled your towel trick and we called out "Hello!" and "Peekabo!" with big grins on our faces.
Here's to more days like that Baby Bird, where I just stop and relax into the passing hours, letting you love and entertain me just as much as I love and entertain you.
Your full-from-those-delicious-cookies-and-oreo-truffles-my-new-friends-made, only-slightly-irritated-by-my-"Hello!"-baby-voice, ready-to-be-entertained, crazy-in-love mother x
Frances M. Thompson
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