Every night – and before every nap – we follow mostly the same routine (though we have no schedule – the words “schedule” and “eleven week old” in the same sentence are laughable to me). This routine consists of nursing, swaddling, and then performing some sort of awkward dance wherein I try to simultaneously bounce and cuddle Ellie, who is usually trying to push herself off my chest and stare wide-eyed around the room at everything she could possibly be missing before sleeping.
Sometimes, this routine involves my singing quietly to her – some made up song comprised of whatever phrases pop into my head. After she finally settles down and closes her eyes, I revel in the quiet for ten minutes until I am forced to get up and obsessively check to ensure that she is 1) still breathing and 2) still asleep.
Sometimes after the first night feeding, it takes me a while to go back to sleep, so I have a lot of time to think. Last night, for some reason, a random childhood memory popped into my head.
When I was younger, we moved around a lot. But my favorite childhood house was the “Melchor house,” so named for the street on which it was located. Down the street, there was a short bridge over a little creek.
My mom and I used to walk down to the bridge and watch the water. I would pick up a few of those “helicopter” seeds (what sort of seeds they actually are, I have no idea) and throw them over the railing into the creek. I liked to watch them twirl down to the water and then float away. Or I would throw a sweet gum ball (one of those prickly little seeds) into the water and then run to the other side of the bridge to see how long it took to make it down the creek.
It’s funny to think about how such a seemingly random memory could be so deeply embedded in my mind when I think about my own childhood. It makes me wonder if my mom felt the same way watching me grow as I now feel with Ellie – the days can be so long until they drift into months and then years…and then you wonder what happened to the time.
Really, what happened to all the years in between for me and for us? A seeming lifetime of growing up, a love, a marriage, houses, death and then birth.
It makes me wonder how Ellie will remember how own childhood one day when she is lying awake at night, after feeding and comforting her own child (should she choose to have one). What sort of memories will she reflect on, and will she feel the same sort of wistfulness for a time that cannot be replicated because we all grow up eventually?
Maybe that’s what excites me the most about having a child. Certainly not the sleepless nights or the couch bound nursing sessions or the seemingly endless hours of inexplicable crying that seem to occur and then vanish for little known reasons…
No, what excites me is the chance to make new memories with and for Ellie – to give her the same love, warmth and comfort I was lucky enough to have in my own childhood.
Many people have told me that the newborn phase, with its odd mixture of vacillating joy and frustration, is just a season.
Seasons are fleeting. But, my memories let me know that even the most mundane activity can be remembered years later, polished by the passage of the years in between.