A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to remember all the nicknames that I’d given to my eldest daughter when she was a baby. I was with a friend and our children, enjoying a meal. My daughter was looking at me with her big brown eyes expecting one of those baby stories that she loves to hear, but my mind was a complete blank. I’d called her by about six sweet wee names when she was a baby, as parents do, and not one of them came to mind.
I was told at the time to write it all down, those baby names, songs and routines, silly ordinary moments you want to treasure, but I didn’t. I thought, how could I forget this? It’s all too dear.
But I do seem to have forgotten so much of that time when my children were babies, and it’s not long ago at all. It’s even worse with my youngest – those memories are bathed in fog. I asked my friend, who is cleverer than me, why he thought that was.
‘Because it’s all enclosed in its own bubble,’ he said, ‘having a baby.’
That time with a baby is self-contained, like a dream, separate from life before and life after. When you have a baby, you think this is it, this is how my life is now: sleep deprivation, all that crying (yours and baby’s), hallucinogenic night-feeds, the intensity of this new incredible love.
But it doesn’t last. My friend is right. That time with a baby is a bubble and, before you know it, that bubble drifts away.
You are left with times like the other day instead: bright children chattering around a table, looking back at a time when life was strange and special for a while.
Pps. My friend has a blog, too. If you enjoy memoir and music or just good writing, you should check it out. This is it: ‘How Not to Write a Novel.’
Ppps. Since writing this, those baby memories have come flooding back – wonderful 🙂