“Enjoy this time! It disappears before you know it!”
If I’d to raise a finger for every time I’ve been the recipient of this statement, I’d be out of digits before I could snap them and say, “Butt out, lady, I’m a big girl now!”. If I had a pound for every time it was said I’d never need to work again. And I would bet every penny of those millions on the fact that I am not alone. Anyone feeling me?!
I know, I KNOW it’s not meant maliciously. It comes from a place of love for their own children, flashbacks of moments just like this and by the time Baby #2 came along I had steeled myself to smile graciously and nod respectfully. But in the same way that much advice handed out as absolute wisdom from someone who doesn’t know a toot about you can come across as condescending, it’s also just plain annoying!
It has happened countless times over coffee and at restaurants, usually coupled with the equally ominous, “Wait ’til he’s … [crawling / on his feet / talking / boozing]”. As if the second I’ve taken my eyes off them to inhale some lukewarm lunch before Boob Duty calls again is somehow squandering precious moments.
I started wondering why it bugged me so much. Is it that I’m just a short-tempered, sleep-deprived mama? (Sidenote: I was short tempered before the sleep-deprived mama bit, so this is quite the double whammy.) Is it that I’m an independent woman and, excuse me, if I’ll be told how to live my life?!
Honestly, I think it’s more the tone than the sentiment; the accompanying furrowed brow and faint finger-wag turns into some sort of prophetic warning. Time is running out! Quick! It serves to feed the adult anxiety that has been creeping up on me since my mid-twenties. That weird gut-wrenching tension that has your brain play out a hundred awful, imaginary scenarios all while you’re quite safe and well having a coffee on the sofa.
It hit me recently that the main reason I find such a fleeting comment so jarring is that I actually already know. I know how quickly the time is passing. I feel it every single day right down to my bones. I stare into those big eyes as we sit quietly feeding and I feel a lump in my throat as I look on. I’ll catch a glimpse of Lucas playing independently and I’m just so flooded with love that I want to grab him and beg him to stay this way forever.
I already have that fear of them growing up, leaving me behind, physically and emotionally. Right now, we are the centre of their whole universe and they of ours. The former will change as they search for and find their own path in life, but the latter will always remain true. No matter how old they are, these two little humans will always be our babies. We bring up our children to let them go. A simple statement with more heart-breaking depth than I care to think about too often.
Lucas’ communication has taken a huge leap of late and while it’s fascinating to witness, it also has the potential to invoke the afore-mentioned anxiety, the feeling of time racing away in front of me. I’ve been making a conscious effort to relax into these moments and just really enjoy it. Papa P and I just spend most of our time gawping at him with enormous grins on our faces because we think he’s so great.
We gave him a Mr Potato Head for Christmas and truly there is nothing more magical than seeing something you bought for someone immediately become their most prized possession. And the fact that he emphatically shouts ‘Teeto Haaaaahd’ every few minutes means I would have spent ten times as much just to hear him say it over and over again. And though I would personally prefer it if he continued to pronounce things like a character from ‘Allo ‘Allo I also don’t wish social isolation on him. Instead we’re embracing the evolution and recording daily clips of him and his speech journey, partly to embarrass him in front of all future girlfriends and partly so I can sob into a large glass of wine in about fifteen years.
So, there we go. In being present we have got to really live in the present. And that means undertaking the positive action of letting go of what you can’t control. Reminding myself of this daily as we find ourselves entering another new year with these two crazy boys.
And can we collectively agree never to loom over a new mama, passively aggressively warning her time is slipping away? Because she probably already knows and is doing her damn hardest to enjoy it. Consider instead the friendlier, ‘It’s such a lovely time, isn’t it?’ or ‘Good job, mama!’ then fight the urge to follow it up with a Black Spot of an omen and go home safe in the knowledge that you’ve probably made someone’s day rather than inspired them to go home and write a blog post about how annoying you were.
Happy New Year!