Death makes you scramble for moments and memories, gathering them up like apples in your apron which tumble over each other back to the ground again.
I detest clutter too much to be a proper hoarder, but my house is too full of things which I cannot throw away – in case the person they are attached to is lost and I miss the memory.
I find myself battling between being determined to enjoy a moment for itself, and desperate to take the picture for a permanent record of something so fleeting.
And when time passes so quickly, as it does in the first 6 months of a baby’s life, I find myself at the end: looking back at what feels like 2 minutes ago when I was being wheeled into a theatre about to meet the newest member of our family for the first time.
I feel like I missed it.
All the important, glowing, gleaming moments.
The smells and the stopping in my tracks at the wonder of it all.
I missed it in the tiredness, and the stress and the fractions and the glue gun and lolly stick messes and the worries about money and the economy and people I love slipping away from me.
It swept past me in the candy crush games at 2am attempts to keep my eyes open, in the sheer, crimson flashes of annoyance at people walking past on the pavement, too loud.
It was eaten up by the monotony that makes up the majority of motherhood. The mental calculations of how many pairs of shorts are clean and how many nappies are left and how many hours to go until naptime and what do I need to put on the shopping list so Ethan doesn’t actually turn into a baked bean and Erica gets to try something other than cucumber that I’ve sliced in 5 seconds whilst she cries.
It blurs beneath the unfinished conversations and Bake Off: The Professionals episodes and cold dinners and glasses of wine that we’ve pulled together in order to keep some semblance of a relationship between two individuals going through our bleary eyes and yawns.
And all these things that I swore I was going to do differently – better – that I never got around to because of the bloody pandemic, and now I’m standing next to a highchair putting a bib on a 6 month old and thinking “How the hell did we get to weaning already?!”
This doesn’t translate into wanting another baby. It didn’t with Ethan either. I have never been sad to see my children move onto the next stage, because what I love most about making tiny copies of myself and launching them out into the world like paper aeroplanes, is that i get to watch them discover all the things I already know. To be amazed by flowers and pooh sticks and the way prisms make rainbows and music can make your tummy bubble.
There is still so much to come, with both of them, and I am so looking forward to it. This is all probably sleep deprivation talking. My camera roll is full of sparkling moments of my tiny family, regardless of the constraints of Covid. We are surviving, we have kept a whole baby alive for 6 whole months! My sense of time passing may be out of whack, I may suffer from an unfortunate tick to grab a camera every time someone pulls a funny face, the recycling may not have made it out to the kerb this week, I might have no idea who got thrown off by Benoir and Cherish last week…
But then there are nights when Nick goes upstairs to settle Erica and he’s gone so long that I come up to check on them and they’re both asleep in the nursery chair, and to wake him would mean waking her, so I leave them to their snuggles. Life is precious. And beautiful. And exhausting. And we get to live it.