The things we can’t hold onto

Last week, Charlie became one month old. He smiled at me first thing in the morning, as we were waking up in bed. I kept making faces at him, gurgling baby noises, kissing his nose, his mouth, his cheek trying to get his sweet smile to reappear.

I can’t believe it’s been a month. It’s been a blink. It’s been eternal. It’s certainly been a comedy of errors (like last week when a particular projectile poop resulted in me putting my new white robe in the laundry…with my phone in the pocket).

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Last night, we were in the backyard with our neighbours and friends that are expecting their second child in June. Their first, almost exactly James’s age.

I handed Charlie to Hannah – and her partner Ben said, “You just forget how small they are.”

“Yep,” I said. “It breaks my heart that I’ll forget again.”

There are a thousand things I look forward to forgetting – the sand-in-the-head exhaustion that has steadily set in. His grunting sleep that keeps me awake at 3 a.m.

But the particular weight of him in my arms. His translucent eyebrows and barely-there eyelashes. The way he looks when he’s sleeping on me – neck craned, lips parted. The way he looks like an old man, when he wakes, wrinkling his forehead and bunching up his face. The softness of his skin. His smell. These things I wish I could tattoo onto my brain.

Someday, it will be something I think about and try to grasp, but the real feeling of it, will forever be out of reach.

For Mother’s Day, the New York Times published this short piece, “Our Mother’s As We Never Saw Them.” A piece about about how our mothers were people – different, but the same – before they became our mothers.

Of her mother in a photograph, the author writes: “She looks really sexy; wars have been waged over less impressive waist-to-hip ratios. And she is so young and innocent. She hasn’t yet dropped out of college, or gotten married. The young woman in this photo has no idea that life will bring her five children and five grandchildren, a conversion to Judaism, one divorce, two marriages, a move across the country.”

Of course, I have often thought about this with my own my parents – who they were, the trials they endured, the decisions they made.

But the piece also made me wonder about the parts of myself I am leaving behind. A young, spirited, sometimes-stupid girl-woman – who will be as intangible to my sons as my memory of them as tiny babies.

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Creative, clothes-making, festival-going, twenty-something Sky

But that is life – all of us evolving all the time. Who we were – who we are – who we will be.

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Overwhelmed, lined-forehead, mother of two, thirty-something Sky

Isn’t it funny how the most obvious realization of our lives – that our parents were, and are, just people – is also somehow the most stunning?

“For daughters, these old photos of our mothers feel like both a chasm and a bridge. The woman in the picture is someone other than the woman we know. She is also exactly the person in the photo — still, right now. Finally, we see that the woman we’ve come to think of as Mom — whether she’s nurturing, or disapproving, or thoughtful, or delusional, or pestering, or supportive, or sentimental — is also a mysterious, fun, brave babe.”

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