in the June Carnival of Natural Parenting, Code Name: Mama wrote this letter in which she offered advice to herself in the present moment. One thing she wrote caught my attention since it summed up a feeling I’ve been experiencing since the birth of my baby girl five months ago – “make a memory each day.” A few words and seemingly simple. However, five months into my relationship with my new daughter I realise how fleeting a moment is. Time marches ever onwards, oblivious to my wish to capture the big things – the first smile, the first time she rolls over, let alone the subtle day to day happenings which make my heart melt.
This little one is my fourth child. A much wished for baby born two days short of sixteen years after the birth of our next youngest child. At the beginning of pregnancy I told myself that I wanted to savour every moment rather then wish time away and for the most part I did, but from time to time I found myself counting down, wishing away the weeks that needed to pass before my daughter was ready to be born. On the 24th of January she came into this world and into my arms and every day since she has melted my heart and my soul overflows with love for this little girl who is such a blessing in my life.
She is teaching me every day. I want so much to remember how things are in these precious early months of her life, to really remember. Not just the big things but the everyday details. She is teaching me to be mindful in a way my academic and spiritually focused self has never been able to. So much of my life has been spent in my head, my thoughts wondering, making plans perhaps thinking ahead to what might be. Like all babies and small children she lives in the present. This moment and only this is what matters to her. Is she feeling hungry? Then let mama know right now. How does she reach that toy? She must put every ounce of concentration into pulling herself along the rug. There is the toy and there is her, nothing else. Mama is breastfeeding her – she will gaze into her mama’s eyes and there is only this moment.
The other day I was distracted during a breastfeed and got caught up reading an article. My daughter made soft little noises and her hand reached up to me. I was not in the moment and she knew it. When I looked back to her, her little eyes gazed intently into mine, searching my face. She was checking in with me, was mama back with her? Was mama present for this feed? She knew I had not been. Her gaze questioned me. Did I not know there was only this moment? Satisfied that I was there with her she sighed, closed her eyes and settled in to feed.
Making memories every day is not for me about the achievements, the first times. It is about being spiritually and emotionally present. It is about being mindful. It is the sweet scent of her hair, the way she clasps her hands in such a cute way, her smile lighting up her face when her brothers or sister come into the room. It is meeting her gaze and her knowing that I am right there with her. This challenges me to look carefully at my life. It means putting away the IPad whilst she is awake. It is taking care of my own needs so that I can be mindfully present. I am not perfect and I never will be. I will fail but I will try my best and my daughter will go on teaching me. I can make memories every day, and yes sometimes it will be something big – a first step perhaps. Mostly it will be the simple sweetness of a baby who knows only what is, not what was or what shall be.
Today I made a memory. I am laying in the dark. The air moves from the fan in the corner of the room. It is hot and this gives just a little relief. My baby daughter shifts in her sleep and turns her little body towards me, her mouth seeking my breast in the darkness. I tuck her into the crook of my arm and she shifts closer, her foot coming up to rest on my belly. Her mouth finds what it seeks and she suckles, pauses, waiting for the flow. My partner sleeps on the other side of me. He shifts and reaches out for my hand. His thumb brushes the inside of my wrist. My daughter reaches her hand up, searching for mine in the darkness. I reach to her and her fingers curl around mine. She settles in for her dreamy feed. I close my eyes and listen to the little sounds she makes and the steady breath of my partner. The fan turns towards me again and there is a moment of cool air. There is only this. This simple, beautiful moment in the darkness.