Sometimes Tom and I wonder aloud to each other about the minutiae of our lives. When we die, wouldn’t it be fascinating to know the exact statistics about how we had lived? Maybe we are defined in part by how we live: many hours we spent loving the ones around us, how many times we went out of our way to show someone kindness, how many books we read or hand-written letters sent. Of course, it’s best to think of the good things; no one wants to know how many pints they have imbibed in their lifetime or how many weekends were wasted watching Netflix (no regrets!). These conversations always bring some much-needed perspective to my life and a secret commitment to myself to do better.
As we approached the first birthday of our first baby I haven’t been able to shake my curiosity about the statistics of this last year. Though I know I’ll never have the answers, I can’t help but wonder: how many diapers have I changed? How many night feeds have I endured? Good Lord, how many cups of coffee or glasses of wine (sometimes in the shower because #MultiTaskingMama)?
But those are boring – how about the things that are specific to my family’s experience? Could I measure this year by the nights spent walking around our kitchen island bouncing our swaddled, colicky daughter; in hours spent shushing her? The number of naps in that vibrating green chair we bought on Craigslist in desperation or the tears shed by a mama beset by guilt because she is unable to calm her own child? How about the number of appointments with Hennie’s paediatrician we attended this year, or her geneticist, or her cardiologist, or her GP? Can we measure the year in the number of times I googled ‘sleep regression’ or ‘teething remedies,’ or the number of times I texted my village in the middle of the night, desperately seeking their advice?
I wish I knew how many times this year my husband has cheered her on as she conquered a new skill or has made her shriek with laughter. How many times have we brushed our lips against her head or rubbed that downy blonde hair under our palm absentmindedly like she is an extension of ourselves, like we are scratching an itch on our own skin? How many times has she fallen asleep grasping our finger in her hand or reached for us to pick her up? How many times did we call her “Little Miss Custard Pants” or sing her a made-up song? Surely her first year could be defined by the number of hours she has spent in our arms or times she has turned those big, blue eyes on us with a mischievous smile? Has it been hundreds of times, or thousands? And yet still not enough.
This gorgeous little girl. She is growing so quickly and I’m struck with the knowledge that one day she will outgrow my arms, outgrow her stroller, outgrow her parents. She pushes my hands away so she can show me that she can stand on her own, but still expects that I remain nearby to scoop her up in my arms when she falls and praise her efforts with the enthusiastic applause that only an over-proud parent can give. I will always celebrate your independence and stay close enough to catch you, baby girl, long after you’ve learned to walk with steadiness through this world that isn’t good enough for your innocence. I don’t have to know the statistics of my life to know that it is already defined by the time I get to spend with you.