The Unbearable Fleetness of Being
7000 photos later, I have a 7 week old baby.
(Apparently, he crossed over from being a newborn to being a regular garden variety baby at the 6 week mark, a milepost we came upon like rally car drivers, speed-whipped and vaguely stunned, leaning hard into the next turn.)
There is a new quality to my days (apart from the Monty Python moments, like 5 minutes ago when I backhanded a half litre mug of tea over, onto a storybook, notepad, camera, desk calendar and box of colouring pencils piled neatly on the kitchen counter. Sippy cups – clearly not originally invented for the babies.)
It’s a shining, ice-cream headache kind of quality (which may be the abrupt assault to my circadian rhythms perpetrated by the lovely but hungry Wee Dictator and his marble-sized stomach)…
or maybe has nothing to do with sleep and is just the halo effect of the boy who strikes me as peculiarly brilliant – not in any IQ, developmental fashion, just in a radiant illuminating kind of way.
His existence seems to affect everyone around us:
my father in law stares at a tape measure laid flat on the floor, unleashed to 90 inches, pondering his 65 inch notch in the tape and how little time he has left compared to his grandson who has barely even registered on the timeline;
my mother is packing together five generations worth of family heirlooms and 35 year old babyclothes that she has had hidden under the stairs to bring for her first visit, even though all we really want from Australia is Vegemite and sun-kissed cuddles form Grandma;
my 6 year old niece and 3 year old friend are obsessed with looking at the baby, especially when he’s asleep. “Can I see the baby?” they ask, (and call him “she”, which makes me wonder momentarily, ‘too girly a name? too girly a wardrobe?” or maybe they just see him as a miniature version of themselves.
Don’t we all.)
My husband’s 90+ year old grandmother says wistfully, “he’s right at the beginning of things. Everything to come will be a first.”
And everyone else says: Enjoy it. It goes by so fast.
A cliché I turned my nose up at before…
but I watch his changing face and try and decipher his grunts and squawks and leg kicks and headflops,
and I think about my friend Ronan, who died suddenly at just-turned-two, (and his parents who carry that with them like a second skin,)
and about my friend Ange, who died on Friday at 38, (and whose brand new baby girl will carry that with her, into her brave and barely begun life,)
and I’m crying for us all, and how goddamn fast it really feels.
And I’m hoping the post-natal depression screen doesn’t pick me up; that this isn’t labelled as anything other than an almighty dose of love, life, and whiplash at the barely-bearable fleetingness of being.