Beaten to it

On Monday night I watched my now seven month old daughter lie on the bed flailing her arms.

She's waving at me; she has for a few months juddered an arm in response to a wave. I smile and wave back, I gather up the changing gear.

But as I pause to watch it becomes clear that this is not a wave. It is not a juddery arm swipe. It's two arms trying to come together, trying to connect, missing, trying again, and again, suddenly two tiny hands crash into each other. Then again. And again. And again. And I know that this is not a random thing.

My daughter and I are ecstatic. Both amazed at this sudden display of co-ordination. I clap back, my smile telling her all she needs to know of my joy at this achievement and I repeat over and over and over in the way that parents do: "Clap!"

And she claps, and I clap and we both clap in celebration of her clapping.

This is another big step. This is amazing. This is her growing, right there in front of me. This is fucking amazing. I have experienced this moment of change, watched her clamber over another developmental milestone.

I change my daughter's nappy and bring her downstairs. I can't wait to tell my wife.

"Baby's just done something really cool! She's…"

"Oh, is she clapping? I meant to tell you she'd done that earlier."

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42

Our baby sits low in my wife’s belly. She appears to be quite comfortable, far more so than my wife for whom any position can now only be maintained for short periods at a time. The exercise ball rotates under her hips, the motion intending to push her body along into labour, ready now. 

Our son sleeps upstairs, blissfully unaware of how much his life is about to change. Perhaps we are too. A friend commented recently it’s good we’ve done this already; as if we know what to expect. I think that we have not been here before, that things are not the same, that we do not know what to expect, that whatever this experience brings it will be as unique as the child being born. And that is quite terrifying.

I reminded myself earlier that everything we do today is a last. A last as a trio. A last for a while of a just us two even. But I don’t see fit to mark this in any way. I don’t see the need to linger on the moment I kiss my son as he goes to bed, or somehow capture for posterity these moments, me tapping away single-fingered, she arguing over crossword clues. I’m not even sure why I feel the need to want to make a point about it any more.

Tomorrow is 42 weeks. 

Our little girl has in a sense already been with us for 42 weeks now, making tiny adjustments to the patterns of our lives, hiding in plain site.
However, we’ve all agreed it’s time and one way or another she’s coming tomorrow.

Being kept on our toes

In warmer climes folk need to shake out their shoes to dislodge nesting nasties. 

In our household you have to do this to dislodge small toys and Lego bricks. 

This morning I have removed two small diggers that I didn’t even know we had. Thankfully they were caught before any major damage was done.

Toddlers bring a wonderful sense of random to everything you do.

Yet another proud parenting moment

We’ve had our first unequivocal fuck.

Actually we had about 40 of them, one after the other.

It was hard not to laugh.

Or smile.

Or figure out where it came from.

I don’t think he can go to his grandparents this week.

My wife’s reaction was (unsurprisingly) “shit”.

When my wife got home she asked him, carefully, if he meant “fork”.

“No, fuck!”

So basically we’re screwed.

 

Your pace or mine?

Two months after we got married we moved house, two weeks after moving house my wife phoned me to tell me she was pregnant. I feel as if I haven’t paused for breath for almost three years.

Being a parent, being a new parent, being a first-time parent, being a working parent, trying to be a good parent, it’s exhausting. Whether they’re lying, gurgling, in their own poo, or ascending the bookcase, they demand, need, deserve 100% of your attention.

Like the man said: stop the world, I want to get off.

It’s not that I want more time to myself. I get that on a train plugged into my music four mornings a week, oblivious to my fellow travellers all doing the same.

What I really want is to slow down, is to stop. Physically, mentally, spiritually. To feel like I’m not waiting to do something, not needing to think about something or simply not to be so self aware of a world and a tiny percentage of its inhabitants that demand my attention.

The answer is, as answers occasionally are, right in front of me: running down someone else’s drive way, pulling flower heads off out of their garden, picking up gravel, stooping to look at dog poo and cigarette ends.

To move at your child’s pace, to move in your child’s time is to move in distracted wonder, unfettered by having to be anywhere whenever.

It is to take an hour, even two to complete a twenty minute journey and to wonder at the end if you had rushed things.

It is to let go of any urgency and drift aimlessly on whim and fancy, revelling in a scrap, a stick, a sound, and where any road is worth meandering down at least for now.

It is to move at a speed driven by interest and playful rhythms.

You start to feel as if this is a lost art, a muscle memory from thousands of years ago, a way for us all to reconnect…

…whilst still having to divert them from getting too close to the road or falling off bridges. I guess even when you do get to stop, you never stop being a parent.