Our endless numbered days

11Jun16

My maternity leave is officially over. I have mixed feelings, like most mothers do. I feel ready to have “work” in my life again, and I will be sad every time that I have to walk out the house and spend the day without her, and I know she will be fine, and I will miss long lovely days with her, and I will miss long difficult days with her less. I felt excited this week about the prospect of being out in the world next week, and then I realised I hadn’t really thought about going back to work and being away from her and I suddenly cried hot, guilty tears all over her. She looked at me curiously, and I felt bad that I couldn’t prepare her for the fact that I will be around less. But, see above: she will be fine.

Yesterday I stood and looked in the mirror while I was breastfeeding her. She is massive. She is one in a few weeks, officially a toddler. Annoyingly, people are right. Time flies. I can see why people keep having babies, even though they are a bloody nightmare. It is a way of trying to hold onto time.

I know that we will have many more lovely days together. But we will have less of those days that are lovely specifically because you look after your child full-time – perhaps because you’ve had a few hard days in a row and the day seems all the better by comparison, or because you are tired and have fun in spite of it, or because you’ve nearly made it to the end of the week, or because it’s the beginning of the week and you have the sense of the full week ahead and fun stuff you can do together.

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And sometimes because you get into this rhythm of small things, small moments, and it’s say Thursday at 3pm, and you’ve had nearly the whole week to get into this groove of small things and small moments and you both just seem to like it. A little routine together. Popping to the shops. A late afternoon walk. Part of me is worried that she won’t get into this pattern when we are together in the future, because she will anticipate the next time I go away and feel clingy and on-edge. But even if this is true, I suppose this is life: people leave, and they come back, and they leave again. It is one of the things I can’t protect her from.

We have had lots of great, busy days out, but mostly the ones I will remember are when we didn’t really do anything special at all. When we walked to the swings and back, or up to Sainsburys to get something and then back for lunch, a.k.a. Rosa cramming avocado and bananas and raisins and tomatoes in her mouth and saying MMMM, then swigging on her sippy cup like an old drunk. When it got to about 4pm, and I thought hmmm what shall we do now, and then she amused herself for 39 minute by gathering up clean washing in a pile around her and throwing it out again and gathering it up again.

This is one of my favourite things, to watch her become absorbed in something. She knows I’m nearby – if I try and sneak off to make a cup of tea she squawks or crawls after me – but when I am in her view, she can sit and play for a long time. She looks up at me and grins a lot, and I wave at her. I am right here, I think.

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