I have become very popular.
No, my newfound popularity has nothing to do with my post from yesterday. In fact, fewer people have spoken to/emailed/called me in the last 24 hours than in the previous 24, leaving me to wonder if perhaps I took the honesty mandate a bit too far…
No, my newfound popularity has nothing to do with yesterday’s post. Or any post, for that matter. My popularity is entirely un-blog-related.
I have done nothing to earn the stares and smiles and waves, nothing to deserve the kind words and well wishes, nothing to prompt the bits of advice I now get on regular basis from absolute strangers. And yet I get them. Every day. Every time I set foot outside my house.
Why? For one simple reason: I push a stroller containing one very small, very vocal, very cute baby girl.
You’d think it might be annoying, the constant barrage from random passersby. But it’s not. In fact, it’s the opposite of annoying. It’s encouraging. Inspiring. Uplifting.
My favorite are the veteran moms. Women whose children aren’t children anymore. They marvel at Lil Mil’s tininess, admire her olive-toned skin, delight in the moany moans I try so hard to tune out. They ask me how I’m doing and applaud the fact that I’m “out and about.” And then, if I’m lucky, they say something about their own experience in Life with a Newborn.
These somethings are priceless.
They say things you’d expect. Simple things. General things. And yet, beneath the simplicity and the generality is depth. Profundity. Truth.
“I can still remember the smell of my son’s hair when he was that age. He’s twenty-three now.”
“I miss those little baby sounds. The coos, the moans. Even the cries. You should record them. I wish I had recorded them.”
“My daughter used to burrow her head up against me when she was that small. Right there. In my armpit. That was the only way she wanted to be held, with her face jammed in my armpit.”
“Enjoy every moment. It goes by so fast. Heartbreakingly fast.”
I’ve been carrying these memories – their memories – with me. Treasuring them. Determined not to miss the moments that these women didn’t miss. Doing what I can to savor the babyness of my baby. Inhaling her hair. Recording her moans on my iPhone. Nudging her face towards my armpit during our early morning snuggles (which sounds weirder than it is. Promise).
I’ve discovered that doing these things – being intentional about my memory-making – has made the experience of new motherhood bittersweet. I’m suddenly hyperaware of how quickly I’m moving through what I always thought would feel like an eternity. I already miss the days when Lil Mil was wearing newborn diapers. When she didn’t have a belly button yet. Before she discovered how to smile.
It’s important to savor these moments. But in savoring them, I can’t help but anticipate their loss. Maybe it’s because I anticipate their loss that I am able to savor them in the first place. I don’t know. I just know that these moments – watching Lil Mil sleep, giving her a bath, playing with her tiny toes – make me immensely happy and exceedingly sad.
It is in these beautiful, bittersweet moments that I experience the depth and complexity of motherhood. What it means to be a mom.
I treasure these moments. I live them and then relive them. Play them back in my mind.
I have a favorite.
On Wednesday, Lil Mil and I spent the bulk of the day at my favorite cafe. After several hours of blissful sleep in her stroller (her new favorite place to be), she started her moany moans. My hungry girl. So I took her to the bathroom to feed her.
There we were, in the oversized handicap stall. Determined to give her my full attention, I forced every non-baby thought from my mind and just watched her eat. I tried to soak in every detail, tried to find ways to make this moment stand out. And yet, I feared it wouldn’t do any good. How would I possibly remember this? I’ve fed Lil Mil in too many bathroom stalls already. This wasn’t even the first time I’d fed her in this particular bathroom stall. How could I make this moment stand out?
In my sneakers and jeans, while was Lil Mil gulping away. I closed my eyes and moved to the music. Moved my feet in time with the beat. Soon, I was toe-tapping and side-stepping and bopping around the stall. (I worried briefly that all the motion would make Lil Mil throw-up, but then decided I didn’t care if it did, because it’d only make the moment more memorable.)
In the end, she didn’t throw up. She just ate while her mama danced, savoring a moment she’ll never get back. A moment she’ll never forget.
(What are the moments in your life that you’ll never forget? Do you think moments become somehow less real or less meaningful when we intentionally create them? Are there moments you missed and now wish you hadn’t?)
(For a beautiful, poignant reflection on missing the riches of the present moment, check out this post from the exquisitely written blog A Design So Vast. I read this post on Wednesday, moments before taking Lil Mil into the bathroom to feed her. So, in large part, I have Lindsey to thank for my unforgettable moment.)