Late last night I was whispering sweet nothings to my Theo. This is not a rare occurrence; while he nurses I generally like to pour my adoration on him. I am making the most of the time I have before he’ll get embarrassed by such nonsense and say “Muuuuum!” instead of gazing back at me lovingly.
As he started to fuss and cry, I patted his head and pulled him in close, whispering my promises to him;
“I’ve got you baby boy, I’m holding you.
I will be here holding you always.
As he settled back down into a sleepy nursing session, the word ‘always’ was ringing in my ears. As I heard myself saying it again and again, I realised; always is something I cannot promise my Theo. I could feel a lump forming in my throat. As I watched him nurse and my body filled with motherly hormones, I tried to rephrase my statement in my mind.
Aside from the unpredictable, I thought –
‘Always, unless I die’.
Yep, that sounded better.
No wait - a more horrifying thought which I could barely let myself think surfaced,
“Always, unless you die”.
Yep, unless either of us die, I would be here holding him always.
Thinking a little more, I added for good measure,
‘Always, unless the world explodes’.
Yep, all bases covered. I was glad to have that sorted in my mind. Unforeseeable aside, I would be here holding him always.
As I pondered that more, I began to realise - I could promise to be here, but Theo was returning no such promise to me.
In fact as I gazed at my sweet little man, I knew that it will probably not be something unpredictable or unforeseeable that would bring an end to me holding my sweet boy, it was in fact the most constant, predictable and unchanging, it was time. It will start slowly at first, and for that one grace, I am thankful. Time will fool me into almost not noticing it’s happening.
First; he’ll grow too big for my lap. Too big for nursing, too big to listen to me smother him in love. These changes will all be softened with the delight at watching him grow and change but it doesn’t negate the fact that one day, he’ll leave and I won’t know when he’s coming back.
I pulled my boy as close as I could. The lump in my throat was a full-blown knot and I could feel tears starting to prick my eyes. I repositioned myself and stroked his head with my spare hand. As I ran my hand back and forth through his soft baby fuzz I tried to rephrase my promise. It took me a while to whisper what I knew I must.
“I will be here loving you always, and then, then.... I will let you go”.
And only after I’d said it aloud did I realise just how much I loved him.
Photo by Hailey Bartholomew
P.S. (From Leigh): Read more of Georgia's reflections on motherhood at her heart-stoppingly beautiful blog, Gregarious Peach. Oh, and have a kleenex handy. The photos of sweet Theo and his sister Priya are enough to put a lump in your throat, but it is Georgia's way with words and her introspective yet joyous way of parenting that will really get to you.