I was on my daily walk the other morning with the baby and the dog. I’m often in another world as I enjoy getting a few quiet moments to clear my head in the fresh air and say hello to the familiar faces I see on our well-worn route. I often chat along to the baby, giving him a running commentary on everything from the weather, to the leaves falling, to the horses we pass in the field and the river that runs alongside us.
Yet I’m often in a hurry. Conscious of nap times, lunchtimes, doing the laundry, making meals, trying to find time to sit down and get some work done and just generally keeping in with our routine. Some days, my eyes are bleary and my hair in unkempt if he has been awake during the night or has been very moany that morning. Some days I put my sunglasses on to hide the smudged mascara from tears I might have shed on the days when I struggle to keep things together.
It was on one of those tougher days the other week, when a voice jolted me out of my own thoughts as I walked along the path pushing the pram with the dog walking by my side.
‘What wonderful memories you’re storing up.’
I looked up and an elderly man with two large walking poles beamed at me as he slowly walked past.
I paused for a moment and thought about his words.
Here I was, walking on a sunny October morning with my baby boy happily in his pram and my dog by my side. It didn’t matter that I’d been up five times with him the previous night. It didn’t matter that his daytime naps had gone to hell and that I’d found it impossible to fit my work in. It didn’t matter that he was teething hard and that feeding him had become a daily nightmare where everything ended up on the floor and meltdowns were had at the drop of a hat. It didn’t matter that every car journey resulted in him arching his back in defiance of getting in his car seat and that I had to sing Row Row Row Your Boat on repeat until we reached our destination. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t spoken to another grown up in about three days. It didn’t matter that my husband was working late and I had to do bed and bath time by myself. It we didn’t matter that we didn’t get to eat our own dinner until after 9pm and then fall asleep exhausted an hour later. It didn’t matter that I was feeling really stressed by these little things.
Because when I thought about it, they are little things. Little things that seem tough when you’re going through them. Things that wear you down when they come all together. Things you complain about and bemoan on a daily basis.
But this man was right.
Although I felt as if I was in the middle of a maelstrom, I was indeed storing up wonderful memories. I was able to spend this precious time with my son, while he is still small and needed me.
In motherhood, things can be tough at times and you can find yourself wishing to be somewhere else, but through this strangers eyes, I realised that there would come a time very soon, when I’d look back on this time and smile. When my son is grown up I’d look back and long to be here again, right in the thick of it, when he was small and needed me.
It’s not just rose tinted glasses. It’s not just the benefit of hindsight or plain old nostalgia.
I realised that I need to stop and be in the moment from time to time. To stop and enjoy this often crazy, hectic, push you to the limit baby days because my baby boy is already approaching his first birthday! Before I know it, he’ll be a young man who doesn’t need his mum for every little thing. And I’ll wish desperately for those bleary eyed days when all he wanted was me.