Friday, August 9, 2013

Baby don't you cry

One of my virtual "friends" (or perhaps more accurately, a food blogger I have never met but who I adore) just had her first baby--a perfect little boy named Lincoln (love that name).  She is rightly taking a break from her usual recipe-per-day posting schedule to enjoy her newborn son, but thankfully posting some pictures of him and his new family.

And I am in baby love all over again.  She's writing about every single emotion I felt with Frances those first few weeks--the unexpected, overwhelming, and immense amount of love you feel for your first child.  Your sadness when seemingly overnight they change.  (Wait, what?  No, no; that outfit just fit yesterday.  Did I shrink it in the dryer?)  How much you miss them when they're not in your arms (which is hardly ever with #1).  That desire to just stare at them, touch them, kiss their sweet necks, smell the tops of their heads.  And, without warning, the knee-buckling fear of anything ever hurting to them--playground bullies, bumps and bruises, broken hearts.

I sent her a "congratulations!" message (along with hundreds of her other readers) and found myself rambling on and on about these first weeks of motherhood.  How she needs to take the time to enjoy her baby and not feel guilty (forget about all of us recipe lovers!  We'll be fine).  How she'll look back on these first months with an unbelievably full heart.  This time will never happen again.  Yes, there may be other babies--but there will never be another first baby.  You will never again get to see your handsome husband hold your newest love for the first time--watch him evolve as a father and as a human.  Those early weeks--there is just something wonderful about them.

Strangely enough, one of my favorite memories from my all-too-short maternity leave with Frances was a movie I watched twice (strange because I have never been a big movie person and probably haven't watched one in a good six months or more).  I recommended it to this new mom, in part because the movie is about a girl who cooks, but more so because the movie describes better than any one I've ever seen that instant and intense motherly love.

If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.  Especially if you are in a sleep-deprived hazed and highly hormonal  state (which, coincidentally, also describes the mother of a three- and a five-year-old).

Without giving away too much, towards the end of the movie the main character (the waitress) gives birth to her daughter and her world is changed forever.  Suddenly, things become clear--she realizes her personal relationships are for the birds and that every decision from here on out will be with a focus on her new daughter.  This is the part where my waterworks start every single time.

But thinking about the last scene of the movie is what got me today.  You see, the last time I watched the movie Frances could fit in the nook of my arm.  She was the daughter in the birth scene--the infant, the innocent, the potential person, the swaddled lump of love.  But today, she is this girl.

Or at least, she was that girl three years ago!

And the last time I watched the movie, I remember thinking how old that little girl looked.  How it would be an eternity before my Frances would be that big--before she could walk, talk, have hair long enough to put in bows, walk down the street holding my hand.  And yet, somehow, those days are here.

I love these times now more than I ever thought possible.  But what I wouldn't give for one day back during those first weeks.  My intimidated hands becoming confident in one swoop.  My fears that she would fall out of her crib if I didn't watch her every second while she slept.  My heart about to burst out of my chest when she would grab my fingers tightly in her tiny hands.

As Maya Angelou is often paraphrased as saying, "If I'd known better I'd have done better."  I didn't know then how fleeting that time would be; but I know now.  I know that I will one day look back at my pictures from this summer and wish I had my five-year-old back in my lap, laying her head on my shoulder and telling me about her dream from the night before.  Dancing in the kitchen.  Dressing her stuffed animals in her doll clothes.  Drawing hearts and rainbows on every available piece of paper.  I know these days are fleeting--fleeting because they are wonderful.  Perfect.  Flawed in all of the right ways.  Beautiful.  Just like Frances herself.

(PS - this movie also has just about the best theme song of all time)

Baby don't you cry.  Too late.

Happy Friday, everyone!   

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