It’s a strange time in my life.
There is a bittersweet flavour to my days, and the more I prepare for this new baby, the more I am aware of the gap that is slowly closing around the era I’ve shared with my daughter. For nearly two years, we’ve shared a relationship so intimate it’s incomparable to anything I’ve known. It’s felt uninterrupted. Like a bubble the world could never permeate. The love affair of mother-and-baby transformed into the love affair of mother-and-daughter and more and more, my time with her has captivated me in ways I could never have anticipated. I grew reluctant to have anything take me away from her for too long and though there have been long, dark, messy days, I’ve stayed firm in my desire to wade through them mostly unhelped because what floats on the surface when you finally come up for air is worth every gasped breath you might have previously taken. I didn’t want to miss out — on the good or the bad. I wanted it all.
Every time I fold a tiny onesie and tuck it away in his drawer, ever so neatly, ever so precisely, I feel that pull in my heart which is difficult to describe. It’s euphoric. Like if I actually tried to label it — tried to immerse myself in it so I could find the words to describe it to put here on paper, I’d literally explode. Needless to say, I’m anticipating the day of his birth — the day I finally meet my son — with desperate joy. And yet, for a few seconds after I shut that drawer, the anticipation of his birth serves only as a reminder of the distance which now separates me from Ella’s birth, of the days which have now turned into years, of those nagging thoughts I now harbour: Where has the time gone? Was I present enough? Did I appreciate it enough? Did I enjoy it as much as I should have? It serves only as a reminder that my all-consuming time with her is coming to a close — time which now, feels like a wispy dream.
My heart is tightening a little as my arms are loosening their hold of her : a transformation I know is necessary. She is growing up. She needs to explore the world. In fact, she thrives off it. With more structured grandparent time, with the contemplation and trialling of one day a week at daycare, with the steps away from me she is taking, I am stretching the way I know I need to. I am beginning to tread that incredibly difficult path of offering my most prized treasure to the world, and I’m trying to do so gracefully.
I fill out forms asking, “What things do you need us to know about ______ to make him/her feel special?”, and I am stumped for words. Do I write about how she loves raspberries blown upon the nook of her neck? How furiously she giggles? Do I write how a bowl of berry yoghurt makes her feel like the luckiest girl in the world and when I tell her she can have some, she smiles so big I can’t see her eyes anymore? Do I write about how she deserves to be utterly cherished? That singing to her and dancing with her and making sure your eyes are lit up every single time you are with her is non-negotiable?
No. Of course I don’t. I just write: She loves baby dolls so if you offer one to her and give her a little cuddle every now and again, that would be great.
But then there is now. In the spaces of time we are reunited, well, they are bliss. They are weighted with a mountain more value now. I’m present like I never was before. And I look at this little girl I was given to love and I just die. I just die with love.
Last bites of just-me-and-her time: