In the midst of surviving young babies, I was told frequently to cherish the moments because “babies/kids grow up fast.” I always felt like this was a way to dismiss my complaints of exhaustion. I knew that kids grew fast, because heck, I felt it wasn’t that long ago that I was a kid too.
And although I never had Post Natal Depression, I can empathise somewhat with not wanting to hear we should be grateful when in the present it all feels too hard. The extra guilt is never helpful.
But last night Malachy had to sleep in our bed. He hurt his leg, required stitches, and couldn’t climb into his loft bed. He was quick to fall to sleep. In an non-creepy but more pensive mothering way, I just stared at his little chest rising and falling, his sweet face resting and his limbs splayed over the bed with an unexpected sadness. I realised I hadn’t cuddled him to sleep in so long (not that I didn’t want to though.)
The thing I wasn’t told back when people said he’d grow up quickly was that “quickly” meant a few years… I was banking on 18 years, him moving out and replacing his mother’s arms with a stinky share house.
I neglected the fact that even young children pick and choose what they want to do. That it isn’t 18 years of him under my roof and me “controlling” what happens in that time. That his personality may choose to do things differently despite how I feel I’ve parented. That certain moments I thought I had plenty of time enjoying (that I even took for granted) would pass far quicker than expected (those wise so-and-sos were right!)
Malachy prefers to sleep in his own bed with his own space. Though I acknowledge that most things will be looked back on more fondly than they felt at the time, I still wish back when I had his sleeping baby body laying horizontally over my face that I knew I’d have condiments in my kitchen cupboard that would last longer than moments like those.
But maybe the quote, “they grow up fast” (that I now know to be true) actually had a part missing from it at the end? Maybe we also need to say that time passing may indeed help you appreciate and enjoy certain moments. Maybe time passing changes things for the better for some people?
Because I don’t believe I ever cherished hugging Malachy quite like I did last night. And if just for that moment, I’m truly grateful.