Monday, April 21, 2014

Appreciating the Moment Isn't All it's Cracked Up to Be

Last week I found myself organizing photos.  I am old school when it comes to photos - I still have every single one printed out, and placed in a hard copy album.  I just don't like the idea of all of my memories floating around in cyberspace somewhere.  I like to be able to hold a tangible picture.

I've been a little busy lately, with a new baby and all, so I have been a bit delinquent with my photo upkeep.  Thus, last week's photo organization centered around last summer and early fall - eating lobster in Cape Cod, frolicking at the beach at the Jersey shore, being ridiculously pregnant at my sister's wedding, and then of course, the early days with baby Colin.

I generally do get sentimental when I go through pictures, but this picture his me like a ton of bricks and had me an emotional mess:

Please excuse my pale, decrepit appearance.  I had just pushed out an 8 pound baby and hadn't slept in two days.
I had to do a double take.

That baby in my lap there does not look like the baby sleeping in the room next to me right now. That baby in my lap there is a newborn, only two days old.   The baby in the next room is plump and filled out.  He started eating solids this weekend.  He rolls over and sleeps on his tummy (for 12 straight hours, I might add).  He smiles and laughs and even sits up by himself, for a few seconds at a time. The baby in the room next to me looks like this:

How did this happen?  In a mere five months?

Everyone talks about how time goes so fast.  When one has a baby, especially the first one, they are generally bombarded with the following advice:  Appreciate every moment - the time will fly! or Savor this time - it will be over before you know it! or It doesn't get any better than this!  Or some permutation.  Basically, this is the best time of your life and it will be over soon, so you better appreciate it every. single. second.

But it's hard to appreciate it, when everything seems SO DAMN HARD.  I mean, who wants to appreciate being exhausted, spent, fat, and borderline crazy?

With Braden, my first born, I did not appreciate it.  Because the first time around, you don't realize that it really will go by quickly, just like everyone tells you.  I was happy, to be sure, but I also actively wished the time away - counting down the days until I could sleep again, go out on a date with my husband again, and have my body be my own.  It truly felt like things would never feel normal again, though of course, I began to love my new normal.  And then by the time my new normal was my normal, I found myself looking back on those newborn months and thinking, Hey, that wasn't so bad.  And actually, it went by pretty fast.  

With my second I felt I was prepared to do some major appreciation, as I knew that the tough times would be temporary, and that the newborn stage was fleeting.  Before I gave birth, I gave myself pep talks to enjoy every moment.  I wasn't prepare for postpartum depression to hit me with a vengeance and steal all of that from me.  Not only did I not appreciate the moments, but I found it hard just to get through each moment.  To be honest, I barely remember Casey as a newborn - I was so focused on my own anxiety, fear, and distress.  And God, I feel so damn guilty for that. Every day.

So this time, I wanted it to be different.  After all, this is my last baby.  Here ye, here ye, I am never doing this again (I mean, most likely, not).  I wanted to appreciate every single moment, as I had once been told to do.

And guess what - I DO.

I feel gratitude and wonder and appreciation every single day.  Every time I nurse, every time I hold my baby, every time he gives me a big, dimply smile.  I mourn when he graduates to larger sized diapers and the next size up in clothing.  I marvel at his little baby feet and his adorable overalls and his coos and cries and amazing baby smell.  I love every second of it, even the frustrating ones, and I grasp at each moment, willing it not to pass.

It still does.  And then, I get sad.

I think I had this notion that if I appreciated every moment, that if I took it for what it really was - the smallest snapshot of a long life that I can never, ever get back - that maybe it wouldn't get away from me.  That I could stop time, just by recognizing time.  That I wouldn't be sad about its passing, if I could just acknowledge it as it did.

Instead, I feel emotional and powerless, and just plain old.

I don't want this time to go by.  I want it back.  I want this newborn, this baby, this unique love that is so fleeting - so incredibly fleeting.  What can I do to stop it?  Appreciating the moment doesn't allow me to keep it.  It just makes me painfully aware of the beauty that is passing me by, and of the fact that I probably won't remember most of it.  So many smiles, hugs, nuzzles.  All lost. Transformed from moments into snapshots into general notions of a time gone by, with hazy, fuzzy details.  

I don't want this stage of my life to be over - this baby stage.  After all, I feel like my entire life has led up to this.  I spent my young life fantasizing about this time in my life.  What would my career be?  Who would I marry?  Where would I live?  How many kids would I have?

How can it possibly be that I now have answers TO EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE QUESTIONS?

I feel like I don't have any questions left.

Everyone says to live in the now.  I AM!  But I want to live in this now, where my children are young and home and call me mommy.  I want to be in this now where I have this baby.  This amazing baby that I am so incredibly in love with I can't even put it into words.

When I was child, every time my Grandma would visit she would tell me to stand on my head, so I would stop growing.  I always laughed, and as I got older, rolled my eyes.

But now, I totally get it, Grandma.  You couldn't stop time.  You wanted to.  And now it has all passed, and you are gone.  And someday I will be too.

It truly may never get any better than this.


  1. Beautiful post and so so true. The days are long but the years are indeed short.

  2. I love that your grandma told you to stand on your head! I hadn't heard that before.

    Kate @ BJJ, Law, and Living

  3. SO much of exactly what I am feeling as well! My daughter is 6 months and is our last… I am glad I am not the only one feeling this way too! Your little Man is Adorable!

  4. Beautiful post and such a beautiful baby boy! My second (and probably last) baby is due in four weeks, and I feel like this every single minute. Every little roll and kick she does I am simultaneously overjoyed and so sad because that part is almost over. And I can't wait to snuggle her little newborn self, and then I look at my beautiful 2 1/2 year old boy and I think "she'll be that big in the blink of an eye, and this little tiny perfect boy will have turned into someone else by then too, and the whole thing is just going by WAY TOO FAST PLEASE SLOW DOWN!!!"

  5. It can get better than this. It's called being a grandmother. :)


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