Dear baby Beau
You continue to teach me so much!
Like most people, I tend to learn the most when being challenged… and the last few weeks have been challenging, for sure. This has been a combination of your teething, catching bronchiolitis, and the onset of separation anxiety. That said, you continue to be a lively, happy little boy, taking everything in your stride – it’s just the combination of those three things meant your demands on me have been higher than ever. You are needing to nurse almost hourly, and must be in my arms the rest of the time. It’s me who has found this time challenging – it’s been exhausting, back-breaking, and a test of my patience. I know I am supposed to rest when you do – but when you have finally drifted off to sleep (a struggle at the moment as you have been so unwell), my head throbs and my body aches so much that laying still has been overwhelming.
On the one hand – it has been amazing knowing how attached you are to me; I see how much comfort I provide you with and, without a doubt, you know I’m yours and you absolutely adore me. I see it, and I feel it. It warms my heart whenever you reach for me and nestle your face into the crook of my neck. You also like to rest your hand gently on my cheek when you nurse. My baby. The bond between us is so strong… sometimes I have paranoid thoughts about someone coming into the house and pinching you, so I always keep you in my sight and check on you often when you sleep. These thoughts scared me at first – I would role-play in my head all of the various ways I could physically protect you, if I had to. I thought I was losing the plot. But then I realised what was truly scaring me was the depth of my love for you. So now I’m ok with it. I might be obsessively protective, but you’re my baby.
On the other hand, sometimes I yearn so badly for a break that I feel I am betraying you. I yearn to connect with the outside world again, which I pushed away somewhere in my mid-pregnancy and have kept away during these early months of protecting and nurturing you. Other times I want nothing more than just to connect with me. To remember the girl who fell in love with the theatre, and then travel, and then your daddy… I love my special days with you more than anything, baby (and I know that you know that), but sometimes the enormity of being someone’s mother is too much. Having you makes me feel complete, but it also makes me feel broken into a million pieces. Some days I just want the chance to gather all those little pieces up and make sense of them. But I imagine that will be like trying to read all the stars in the sky at once! Impossible. Crazy. And beautiful.
But whilst I am here with you each day, baby, I admit that sometimes my mind is elsewhere. It wanders off to what was… or what might be… and I often find myself trying to catch up with my racing mind. One day I was feeding you, lost in my thoughts, when I caught you staring up at me. I had no idea how long you’d been staring, that it made tears prick my eyes. ‘Hello, you,’ I said, ‘I’m here.’ And I smiled at you until you believed me, and then you happily carried on feeding… leaving me to watch you.
You teach me what matters, baby. And you continuously bring me back to it.
So anyway, there I was the other day – there we were – me holding you in your nursery, while you cried your heart out with sickness and exhaustion. You needed to sleep more than anything, but you had been fighting it for nearly an hour (intermittently dozing off, before waking to cry and scream and kick and claw at me some more). I was really starting to reach the end of my patience and was about to put you down in your cot to give us both some space… but instead I started to sing. To you… or to me… I guess to distract both of us. No one else was listening but you, and you were making such a racket anyway, so I let my guard down and really belted out some show tunes like some kind of grand finale. And slowly, but surely, you started to settle. Your cries slowly turning into lion cub mewls. And the more you settled the softer my singing became. Until, eventually, you had stopped crying altogether and just stared up at me. I relaxed and closed my eyes, still singing (‘As long as he needs me,’ from Oliver, at this point), and every now and then I would open my eyes and peek at you… watching your eyelids flicker and your mouth pucker… until, at last, sometime much later, I realised you were soundly asleep. I had relaxed with you, connected, and you had finally let go into my arms.
I held you for a couple of hours whilst you slept, staring at your dreaming eyes, and I carried on singing.
When you were first born, and through those early months – I had felt as though my whole life was contained in this one room, with the rest of the world going on outside without us. Whilst I didn’t want to be anywhere else, or to let anyone else in, some days the isolation was very lonely. But lately something has shifted; now I feel as though the entire world is inside with us. Our world. We live, and we breathe, in this small room at the centre of the universe, together. And I’m no longer feeling lost, or disconnected from myself. I’m still me, just as I have always been. But I am a new me. With new priorities and a new awareness. The rest of the world can carry on without me for a while longer. This time with you, this time out from the ‘human race’ – is where I have found myself truly living.
You are teaching me to let go, baby. To slow down, to breath deeper, and to simplify. You are teaching me to do less, and be more. It’s a daily practice that’s for sure, and I am evolving.
You know, your daddy and I watched a movie recently. It was called Boyhood and, filmed over 12 years, it told the story of a young boy growing up into a young man. It got me thinking of you, naturally – as everything does! – but it really got me thinking about your life, less from my perspective and more from yours. Your life will be a series of stages, baby, and this stage you have with me at the moment is just one of them. And the truth is, you won’t really know anything about these days with me (one of the main reasons why I am writing you letters); you won’t know the first time you saw a bird fly, or the first time you tasted food, or the first time you recognised a song – these will be parts of you that belong to me – but I truly hope you grow feeling them, even if you don’t quite remember.
Our time together is going to be far shorter than I care to think of at this point in time – but all any of us have in life is: right now. And (as the boy in the movie says), “it’s ALWAYS right now.” So I will do everything to keep myself in/bringing myself back to the present moment with you. Because it’s all we have. Every single moment counts and must be enjoyed. In the movie, the boy’s mother spoke to him on the day he was moving out of home to go to college. She said it was the worst day of her life. That she thought it would all have been more than this. I’m not going to feel that, baby, I know it. When the time comes that you are ready to leave me, I believe I will feel nothing but happiness for you, knowing that this has been everything. And it will continue to be everything. Just as it is.
To make sure I enjoy my time with you to the fullest, I have started taking regular time out each week. Time just for me; I’m taking the best care of myself, so I can take the best care of you. I go to a yoga class; I go to the spa; I write. And I make sure to go for a walk every single day (although this is usually with you too – we go to the beach and look at the birds flying over the ocean). There is no one happier about this than your daddy – who has always insisted I take this time. And the more time I have been taking for myself, the more time I seem to have with you – because when my own soul is nurtured, it creates even more space for yours. I can be with you fully, give you more energy, more of me.
And so, we continue to grow together – I teach you things, and you show me meaning – and the days are rolling happily into each other. These wonderful days of our lives.
I still sing to you baby, and I can’t help but smile at the words of one of your favourite nursery rhymes:
Twinkle, twinkle, little star…
HOW I WONDER, what you are.
Dream big, my little one.
(I have a feeling you already are…)