Above: Gemma at one day old.
Every morning, I take the first nap with the baby. I always wake up an hour before she starts stirring, but rather than getting up and going about my day, I like to lie in bed with her and simply watch her sleep. The sweet sighs. The rise and fall of her round belly. I love the way her lips pucker under the weight of her chubby cheeks, and I love to bury my nose in her soft tuft of hair, breathing in that milky baby smell.
Gemma at three months old.
These are the moments that bring me calm after a rough night with a teething baby (six teeth coming in at the same time!) and they’re the moments that remind me it takes a special kind of strength to love someone so fiercely through the everyday, the unknown, and the highs and lows of parenthood.
How is it possible that I’m so relieved and thrilled to be able to put her down for a nap, finally, but suddenly start missing her an hour later and hope she’ll wake up soon? It’s the everlasting dichotomy of child-rearing, I think.
Gemma at five months old.
Time is often on my mind because I mourn how quickly it’s passed as she started rolling, then crawling, then cruising, seemingly stealing away her babyhood with every milestone achieved. At the same time, it feels like it lingers a little too long in the afternoon when I’ve cleaned up one too many messes and feel like I’m going to lose my mind.
I have become more aware of time in these last 12 months than I have in the last 36 years. Thinking back to my early 30s, I remember how I’d lose track of how old I was each year and had to do silent math in my head whenever someone asked my age.
But now… now I know why parents will tell you their child is 20 months old instead of just saying “1-and-a-half” or “almost 2.” Now I know exactly how old I am as I ponder how old I’ll be when she starts school, or graduates, or even gets married. (Is it too soon to start thinking about all of that?)
Gemma at seven months old.
As I’ve come to realize, the days are long, but the years are short. So, so short. And though the last 12 months have flown by, I try to relish every insignificant moment of parenthood (the diaper changing, the dish washing, the onesie folding) because every time I blink, I wonder where all that time went.
But friends, we made it a year! While the northern hemisphere celebrated the official start of spring on the vernal equinox last week, we celebrated a newly minted toddler, full of big smiles and even bigger squeals.
Happy birthday, Sprout! Back in the nasturtium patch, one year later. You have bloomed beautifully.