Baby & Beyond – What No One Else Will Tell You
When my baby was little I had a lot of women tell me to enjoy her because, “they grow up right before your eyes.” While it’s certainly true that, at ten months, I feel like Charlotte has grown so quickly, what isn’t true is that she’s growing up before my eyes. She’s growing up behind my back.
If it’s true that life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans, then it’s also true that babies grow up when you aren’t watching. I feel like every story I tell about Charlotte these days starts with, “I turned my back for a second and then…” In those first three months as an infant I kept a watchful eye on her at all times, making sure she didn’t stop breathing or that she was nursing just the right way. As time went on, I started to give her, and myself, more freedom. I’d leave her in the swing while I took a shower or leave her on the couch while I cooked lunch. Unfortunately, there is no solid timeline for when a baby will start to roll over, and she certainly didn’t give me any warning that one day she’d just roll out of her bumbo (a little chair they can sit in) and onto the countertop (thank goodness, it wasn’t the hard floor). Every time I seemed to look away at the TV, a book, my computer, or phone she started hitting another milestone of rolling, crawling or pulling up. One day I was feeding her baby food, and the next thing I know she’s got the cap from the jar in her mouth. Yesterday after nap time, I heard her making more noise than usual, and I come in to find her standing in the crib and making a mess of the humidifier set up by her bed.
Charlotte has been a not so subtle reminder to me that life happens in a blink. Life happens in every moment of every day whether we are paying attention or (as is most often the case) not. When we cease paying attention accidents happen. Take your eyes off the road and you could end up in a car wreck. Don’t look when you cross the street, and you might get hit by a car. Turn your back on your dog at the park, and she might take off or find herself in another precarious situation. I had a yoga student in class once who was assisting another with a handstand. She wasn’t paying attention and the student kicking up into a handstand kicked the assisting student in the face. Purely accidental, but it resulted in a black eye and a few tears. When we stop being present in our lives we sometimes find ourselves in less than ideal situations. It shouldn’t take my daughter choking on a penny or falling down and hitting her head for me to pay attention to her, but sometimes those are life’s little ways of reminding me to be more present.
In our day to day lives there are plenty of near misses and tiny occurrences that force us to reevaluate where we put our attention. We have become so connected to our phones, computers, and televisions that often we forget we are missing out on what is most important, which is human connection. When I focus 110 percent on Charlotte, I can catch her before she falls or keep her from drowning in the bath tub. When I’m driving and concentrating on the road, I notice things like ice on a bridge or someone else running a red light or someone on a bicycle cutting in front of me. We can’t control ourselves from blinking, but we can minimize the time we spend with our eyes shut… and trust me your eyelids don’t have to be physically closed for your eyes to be closed or out of focus.
As a mom, I really do wish Charlotte were growing up right before my eyes. I wish I could see every smile, catch every fall before it happens, and keep every dirty thing out of her hands and mouth. However, I can’t and I know there will be many years ahead when she gets older that I will miss entire events altogether. There might be birthdays she spends with friends, first kisses that I won’t see, and first dances I won’t know about. I know part of life is doing for yourself and being on your own and not always having someone there for every moment, but that’s a hard truth to face. What I do know is that for the time being, having someone else’s life to watch over has forced me to refocus on how I live mine.
If I could glue my eyelids open so I wouldn’t miss a moment I would. My life would be better for it and her’s would be safer. Since I can’t do that, I have to spend my time more wisely when I am watching her. I have to disconnect one aspect of life to reconnect with another. It’s like in your house when you want to plug something into the outlet that’s already full… you have to choose what’s most important to plug in and what’s serving your need at the time? Can you sacrifice the clock for the light? The littlest things happen in the quickest moments. I hope in the future I can catch more of those now that I’m aware and let less slip away.
In the meantime, I wish I could wrap my baby in bubble wrap so that nothing could hurt her seeing as my attention span seems to be less than hers some days.
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About the Author: Natalie Magee writes a regular column for Happiness Series about what motherhood and beyond - from prenatal to postpartum. Her intention with her column, "Baby & Beyond - What No One Else Will Tell You" is to give practical advice and tips to the busy mom and mom-to-be. She also shares her experiences good, bad and ugly as a woman, wife, mom, flight attendant and fitness instructor. Natalie is also a regular fitness contributor on Happiness Series. She will continue to create great, effective workouts for anyone - including the busy moms out there - who wants to get fit and stay in shape.