(Seize the Day and Forget It)
At my baby shower, as is common at many baby showers, my guests wrote me cards of advice. The advice varied wildly from “be careful not to spoil the baby” to “hold him always.” (I’m both paraphrasing and exaggerating that last one but you get the point.) Of course several of the cards reminded me to savour every moment. I’m not the only new parent to ever receive this advice, it’s pretty common. I’m sure you’ve all heard it as well. It comes lovingly and wistfully from older parents, nostalgic for the old days.
And those people are right.
My baby will never be exactly like this ever again. This moment – whatever it is – will never be the same ever again. I got my first digital camera when my oldest was two months old. I took my love of photojournalism to new levels as a mother. My copious photos of each day’s event or excursion didn’t satiate my desire to be a good historian of my boys’ lives, so I also started a blog. I knew my memory would fade and I worked hard to document as much as I could. The photos and stories were to be my inoculation against forgetfulness.
It worked. To an extent.
The other day I stumbled across a blog post from those early days that mentioned in passing that we were finally starting to believe that my second son hadn’t broken his leg after all. What the what?! How could a mother forget something like an almost-broken-leg? There are no broken bones in my family. Even a near-miss would be memorable. Right? As it turns out my husband had also forgotten the incident. If we are capable of forgetting those bigger, dramatic moments, how many blissful, charming, perfect moments have faded into nothingness?
But those people are also wrong.
It is impossible to make the most of every moment. You will go crazy if you try to be happy all the time. Some moments require a white-knuckled perseverance. The demands of parenting are relentless and sometimes you need to zone out for your own sanity. It’s okay to zone out so you can return to mindfulness refreshed. You can’t love every moment, nor can you even document every moment, nor should you.
The life of my youngest son is the least documented of the three. I know he is my last. I will never again hold my own baby at this age – whatever age that may be. This is it. As much as I try to be present with him and give him my all I also have many other responsibilities and demands on my time and attention. I have, however, finally made peace with that. There was a moment in his infancy when I whispered to him “I never want to forget this moment right now. But I will.” I finally realized I would certainly forget the details of this precious moment, and that he would too. It would be lost to the ages and that was okay. What mattered was that the moment had happened. We had shared that moment together. Even though neither of us would ever remember, our relationship was different because of it. We bonded in that moment and in the many other forgotten moments since then.
Our love is stronger because of all those forgotten moments. Ultimately I think that’s the point.