“I don’t remember her as a baby at all, I kept saying ‘I’ll remember,’” but I don’t,” she tells me. She’s standing outside on the front porch, waiting for her daughter to stack her piano books and pull on her boots and coat, and I’m holding the baby who really needs a nap but is staring with big, sleepy eyes.
“I was just so tired. I’m just glad he took pictures, I can create the memories.”
They walk down the sidewalk and my next two students are walking up, shedding their own boots and coats. And I’m wondering if I’ll be saying that.
And it’s only been a few months but the newborn stage is long gone and every day she learns something new. Yesterday it was Eskimo kisses. Two days ago it was dancing – with her head, at least, swinging back and forth to the beat inside her own heart. A week ago she found her toes, pulled her socks right off and left her fat feet out in the cold. She talks to her toys and to shadows and to nothing and laughs when you strip her down to her diaper and whines when her toys are just out of reach, spinning on a round belly because she can’t quite make herself move forward yet.
She knows when we eat and wants to join us, grabbing for plates and cups and spoons and watching every bite, mouth moving. “Hey!” she seems to be saying. “Hey, you forgot me!”
But more than anything she wants faces. She grabs for noses and lips and hair and whines and shrieks if she’s alone and laughs when you lean over her. She won’t sleep if anyone is in the room, no matter how tired, but holds her head up and watches or flips over and kicks and laughs.
She cries like she’s been stabbed when you leave her in the crib, big fat tears, until suddenly they stop and she’s asleep mid-wail.
“This is YOUR baby,” he tells me when she won’t play one morning on her mat but sits quietly with him in front of the computer, and he’s right. This won’t-you-be-my-friend? personality is mine, the big eyes when people are around, the inability to sleep when there might be a party – it’s all me. And so when an ill-advised playdate with her babysitter’s family goes badly and she doesn’t eat or sleep for six hours I leave work early, take her home where it’s quiet, and she crashes hard in the mother of all meltdowns but I know why. I’ve done the same so many times.
People adrenaline always means a crash when the people are gone.
And she’s not quite six months old but those first newborn weeks? They’re fuzzy, pictures out of focus, lost to exhaustion. And maybe it’s OK. Maybe those memories are supposed to be blurry on the edges.
But these days, these days I will remember. I will write them, so that I’m not standing on someone’s front porch 12 years from now saying I don’t remember.
Every day a little more of her emerges from the babyness. Every day I see a sliver more of the person she will grow to be.
And all of it is worth remembering.