A Diary of Motherhood: Year One, Week Six

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 travelwritingfreelancing or Amsterdam instead. Alternatively read one of my short stories or check out some book reviews and recommendations.

Dear Baby Bird,

I'm writing this a few days late, because Sunday we were all very busy celebrating a wedding. It was the first wedding or formal family occasion we'd been too altogether - not counting the wedding we went to when you were a teeny tiny 8 week old foetus... or ball of cells. You were a secret then, something only a few of us knew about, and you were invisible, your presence only really felt by me as I struggled against a very constant and draining exhaustion. Now you couldn't be more different as you proved on Sunday. Your were a little force to be reckoned with. It was impossible to ignore you as you raised your hands and cheered at quieter moments in the Chuppah ceremony, and then sat (mostly) calmly through over three hours of speeches and dinner courses, helped greatly by cartoons on repeat. As your bedtime came and went, we took it in turns to soothe you to sleep either in our arms or in your buggy. You were having none of it. You were like, there's a party going on in there, I want in!

And so party we did. Whenever a song I enjoyed came on, I scooped you up and took to the dance floor, mingling with couples and groups, all getting a little wobblier on their legs. You were mesmerised by the band, and delighted when one of the singers came over and serenaded you briefly with a verse from Stevie Wonder's As. And then when they played Dock of the Bay - a song so important to me and now to you because you were partly named after Otis Redding - well, I will forever remember holding you and singing that song in your ear as we shuffled on our own in the corner of the dancefloor. You may have finally fallen asleep three hours later than you usually do and you may have been exposed to more decibels than you should have, but having you there, with us, meeting Australian relatives and second cousins your dad didn't even know you had, well, it was a special day.

It also went to reaffirm something I've long suspected to be at the root of your disdain for sleep: you just don't want to miss out on a thing. If there's exploring to be had, a band to watch, people to stare at, light and music to experience, you want to be there. Oh, how I love this about you... even if it means more sleepless nights are in our future.

In fact the whole of our visit back to the UK was very special. While you didn't sleep as well as you normally do at home, you did very well, certainly better than previous visits back home, when, after multiple wake-ups, you would often end up in bed with me and your dad would have to go and find somewhere else to sleep, leaving all three of us tired and grumpy. Your improved sleep, certainly helped us maintain better moods, and also you loved being reunited with your grandparents and cousin. After being bounced up and down on my dad's knee you now climb up on mine and leap about, urging me to play the same "gallopy gallopy" game he played with you. And when you, my mum and I all went to her local library she was convinced your "Dah-dooo!" was you saying "thank you" to her as she handed you your juice to drink... It was one of those moments I think we'll both remember for some time.

I also noticed throughout this trip how happy you are in my hip. In new situations, around new people, and simply when crawling around got a bit too much, you would stop, look up at me, and raise up your arms. Once perched on my side you would squeeze your legs around me and grip hold of the clothes on my back. I think there was a time when I thought I'd find this annoying, just like I became so frustrated with the "won't-sleep-anywhere-but-on-me" phase. Maybe it's because you don't do it all the time - we're yet to really hit a period of serious separation anxiety - and maybe it's because I now know that all of these phases do come to and end and I do indeed miss them when they do, but I am in no rush for this habit of yours to pass. You are just light enough to stay up on my hip for many long minutes, but you are heavy enough for me to really feel you there, close to me, warming up my body... and my heart. Of all the positions you and I adopt together, you on my hip is the one that makes me feel most like a mother, for some reason. It's like I'm finally putting my wide (yes, child-bearing) hips to their best possible use.

This is not to say that travelling wasn't exhausting, and we yet again committed our favourite crime of packing too much in too little time, but despite that there were moments of pure joy. Like you playing on the floor at my parents' house, being bounced up and down on your grandfather's lap, seeing some of our London friends again who love seeing how much you've grown, you playing with the "boing boing" doorstop in the hotel (just like my brothers and I did with the same ones at our grandparents' home), and you gripping your little around me again and again and again.

Your my-hips-never-lie, could-dress-you-in-a-suit-everyday-if-you-didn't-like-discovering-dirt-so-much, wouldn't-"thank-you"-as-a-first-word-be-something?, crazy-in-love mother x

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
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