On Monkey Turning One…

11:59….
12:00.

I turned my gaze from the clock back down to the baby nestled in the crook of my arms. Eyes closed, arms heavy, mouth slightly open, and a tiny bead of milk, still warm, on his chin. My heart swelled, I sighed, and felt the tears burning my eyes.

I will not cry.

At a time in the night that I am often more than a little annoyed to be the only person in my family awake, I felt blessed that I saw this precise moment. It was a gift that I had been given that no one else could ever, ever have. My moment alone to savour and reflect.

I will not cry.

What was so momentous about this exact minute? This turning of the clock from one day to the next? Midnight marked the beginning of December 28, 2011. My first baby’s first birthday. My teeny, tiny little nugget, born at just 6 lbs, 1 oz, was now a 21 lbs giggling, crawling, babbling, mischief-making, 1 year-old cherub.

What has taken place over the past 365 days? How has my life changed? How has our family changed?

The tears began to flow. I made no effort to stop them.

Any mother – no, any parent can tell you what a difference a year makes, how much happens in that first year of life. Not just the growing and developing that your baby does but also how you as parents grow. How the first few days of being a parent feels like a surreal, out of body experience. How the first four months are somewhat awkward and filled with days of running the gamut: play mat, tummy time, nursing, napping, repeat. How those months feel like you will never have a schedule ever again, never eat without a baby attached to your boob (ok, just the mothers will attest to that), never sleep for more than two hours at a time.
Small movements, nearly invisible to the untrained eye, are celebrated with applause and in marching band style: “He lifted his head 2 1/2 millimetres off the floor – did you see that?!”; “He followed the cat with his eyes!”; “He smiled! He smiled! Even if it was because he farted, still, he smiled!”.

Then, before you know it, things have changed. Nursing sessions are few and farther between; he’s rolling over first one way then the other; he holds his own weight on his legs with your help. Faster than you thought possible you’re packing away his clothes and bringing out the next size and before you know it the little sleepers that once looked huge are now tiny compared to the ones you just washed and put away. Rattles that wrap around his wrist are put away in exchange for little shakers. The play mat is packed away. Plugs must be covered. First the bottom shelves of your end tables must be cleared off, then the middle shelves, and now the tops are bare to avoid tiny hands grabbing and breaking things as you watch your toddler cruise along all the furniture. “He let go of the couch and stood for 3 seconds! Did you see?”; “Where did he go?! He crawls so fast!”; “I heard him say, “more”, did you?”

It all changes so fast, but the funny thing is you never see it changing, really, until you look back at where you’ve come from. He never looks big to me. It’s only when I look at pictures from months past that I see how small he was then and how big he is now. It’s only when I hold up a onesie that he just had on a few weeks ago and compare it to the one he just spilled spaghetti on. Time just slips away. My maternity leave is up and I must soon return to work. My baby, my pal, my 24-7 best friend, will have to be looked after and “mothered” by someone else while I go back to work and look after other people’s babies. Thankfully we have found what appears to be the Mother of All Day Care ladies, Mrs.E, and that takes the sting out of the bite. But still.

Part of me is mourning the loss of my baby. I know that sounds dramatic and thank God or my lucky stars or the Guy in the Sky or luck or fate or whatever you want to believe in that he has been such a healthy little guy. But that little baby who was so dependent on me for every little thing is gone. My son is still here of course, in front of me, grinning up at me with all 10 1/2 of his teeth, but he’s a different child now. I love him more now than I did a year ago, although when I first looked into his tiny blue eyes I thought I could never love him more. And I know that tomorrow I will love him more than today. But my teeny, tiny little Monkey is growing up, and while I am thrilled to watch him grow and change and learn new things every day, it’s also hard to let that little baby go. A friend of mine, Miss H, articulated it perfectly when she said that she supposes that’s why so many couples decide to start trying for their next child when their first baby turns one, because as hard as it all was I can’t wait to do it all over again.

But I will. Wait, that is. At least a year or two, for those of you who are wondering. So for the time being I will continue to marvel at the precious creature I see before me. I will appreciate the moments I have with him and try not to dwell on those he shares with Mrs. E while I’m not there. I will treasure his hugs and open mouthed kisses. I will kiss his little head when we snuggle in the night. I will cherish the midnights we spend together.

I love him now more than I ever have and tomorrow I will love him more again.
After all, he doesn’t need to be a baby to be my baby.

Mel.

5 Comments

  • You say it sooo perfectly. I'm with you (ok a few weeks behin but still there) every step. I can't believe how fast and how far we've come. I wish time stood still on occasion. It will be so hard to go back to work and leave my buddy. Tear 🙁
    Ashley

  • You seem to say exactly the things I was thinking but didn't know how to say! Ella's first day at daycare was with her Memere and I still found myself getting misty eyed as I pulled away. Before I had Ella I so desperately wanted a full time position, and since then I have decided that if we can manage I don't want to work full time at all until she has to be in school full time. It means more to me to have a couple of days a week with my beautiful daughter than it does to have the extra cash (which we would propbably just spend on things that are not needed anyway)

  • I hope your birthday party for monkey went well! You'll have to tell me all about it when you get home.

    Natasha

  • I couldn't help but ball my eyes out!!! I had some time today and sometimes I feel that i've lost so many precious times having to be away from my little one so soon I am put at ease because you put it so well!!
    He really doesn't have to be a BABY to be MY baby!
    This is awesome!WEll written MEL! I miss your whole fam!

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