My short answer: document the *shit* out of everything they do. Make those memories, and hold on to them. I know somebody is going to read this and think about how unhealthy it sounds, but we all cope in different ways… right?
When Norah was born, I have to admit, I wasn’t ready to be a mother. I was 24, Louis was 23, and we didn’t know what we were in for. We were going off of what movies show and what Insta-famous moms put out into the universe – i.e. everything is perfect 100% of the time when you have a baby! But it’s not, and that’s just part of the journey.
I was told that when my baby was born, I would have an overwhelming sense of joy and love… sigh. The truth is, the sense *was* overwhelming, but it wasn’t love and it wasn’t joy. I just knew intrinsically that I had to take care of this tiny, squishy person, because that’s what you do. She was a stranger to me though – a screaming, pooping, leach of a stranger.
When Norah was two months old, she smiled for the first time; on the exact day. I was sitting with her on my legs, showing her a plush toy giraffe when she looked up and *smiled*. It wasn’t just the first time that she smiled though, it was also the first time that everything felt worth it, like, “okay, I might have done something amazing here.” I felt like a mom for the first time that day in the best way.
Since that day, I’ve had many more of those moments. I think I still have the video somewhere of Norah rolling over for the first time – my voice is in the background and I sound like a fan at a football game. These babies start out doing the things they’re *supposed* to do – smile, rollover, sit up, laugh…
One day though, they start to do things that you never expected (or that you expected, but never imagined), and it fills you with pride at the same time that it just breaks you. The crossroads of, “Yeah, they’re getting it!!” and, “No, they’re growing up…” and I *literally* don’t know how to cope with this, as I’m sure other parents don’t either.
But we do, because just like when they were newborns – screaming, pooping, leaching newborns – we had no idea what we were doing, but we just did it, because something inside told us to. So in another year, I’ll be looking back on these memories and thinking, look at that!, while she stands next to me and speaks a full sentence.
So, here she is, 15 months now with a smile unlike any other. And as I look at that smile, I realize that while I feel the need to say “document everything” and believe it, I also want to say – *let go*. Just live, and let your baby live, and see them fall down and then stand back up… and watch them do that 100 more times.
What I’m trying to say here is – in the midst of all your documenting, and holding on, and your anxieties about now and the future and who will they be and will we always love each other like this… just be. Just be here where they need you, because I’ve never enjoyed a day more than one I didn’t document at all.