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,
If last week was a week of rolling (rolling over that is, not rolling cigarettes) then this week was all about touching your toes. At any given opportunity when lying on your back you would bring your feet up towards the sky and your arms would stretch out to meet them and you'd grab hold of whichever toes you could and you'd sort of roll in that pose in some sort of rocking yoga pose. Changing your nappy, playing on your mat, before I'm quick enough to swaddle you and tuck you into bed, if I look away for a few seconds, you'll fold yourself into this pose, complete with a broad grin. It makes me laugh every single time. Whenever I come up against your best efforts to throw a tantrum or fight a nap, I think of this and it helps remind me that after the tears (yours and mine) come smiles, giggles and toes... your teeny tiny toes in your teeny tiny fingers.
I love watching you discover your body and its capabilities, and you're only at the beginning of this journey. It also reminds me of how quick I've become to take my own body for granted and to dismiss what it's capable of. Maybe that's because of a persistent back ache that has been bothering me for a few weeks and the fact that my thighs are currently burning from a new fitness class I started on Thursday (and yes, I know it's Sunday today!). Motherhood may have slowed down how often I go for a run or go to a Zumba or yoga class on my own, and it's definitely made me softer around the middle and in other places, but it's also made me a generally more active person. While I've still got a few kilograms to lose, and I can very easily look four months pregnant again if I have a big meal, I am very proud of how the walks we take together - you in the pram or in your carrier - are strengthening my own body and helping me get back to a shape that is starting to feel more familiar.
I keep wondering what you'll look like when you're older. You've already changed so much since your first days. Your eyes have changed colour, fast becoming a chestnut brown that I believe is an exact mix of mine and your dad's eyes. Your barely-there blond eyebrows at birth have turned mousey-brown and are still growing in thickness and length, so much so I wonder if we could have a monobrow in the works. The hair on your head has lost its golden (okay, ginger) shine and although that wonderful mohawk of yours is still there patches of light brown hair now cover nearly all of your head. Your dad is convinced that you have the exact same shape of eyes as I do, while I'm pretty confident that mouth of yours is going to grow broader and broader like your dad's. Your typical baby nose offers us no clue whether it will stay small and round like mine, or lengthen and sharpen up a little like your father's. Or maybe it will take on the shape of someone else's in our families... who knows? Your fingers and toes are long like mine, but the shape of your nails are almost exact replicas of your dad's. It's amazing how you've taken bits of me and bits of him.
And all this will change. All of you will grow and grow and age and age. Like we all do. Watching your young soft skin stretch to fill your lengthening frame has been an astonishing and educating process, and not just because you've grown more than any of us expected and quicker than we imagined.
Like many women, I've had an up-down relationship with my body. At times it has felt like my friend and at other times it has felt more like a foe. But since you, ever since those two lines on a stick appeared, months before I even really, honestly felt you, ever since that time - just over a year ago - I've had a new respect for my body. It's given you life and me something to be incredibly proud of.
As a man, maybe you'll never have any of these insecurities or introspective glances, and you certainly won't experience pregnancy or child-bearing in the same way, but I still feel the need to tell you how important your body is. It's your space ship for navigating your way through the galaxy that is your life. I hope it serves you well. But more importantly I hope you serve it well, like you have been already. Just as you have embraced daily tummy time since the day you were born - reluctantly and very grumpily to begin with - I hope you continue to do the exercises you need to do to become stronger every day.
And that enthusiasm you bring to touching your toes, keep that up. That's the best thing you can bring to life. That's your rocket fuel.
Your not-sure-she's-making-sense, still-pretty-tired, but still-so-crazy-in-love mother x
Frances M. Thompson
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