She stood gazing down at this vision of complete contentment – her baby boy’s peaceful, sleeping form. He looked, to her fond eyes, almost edibly gorgeous with his rosebud mouth, little squidgy nose and blond, downy hair framing the gentle curve of his cheeks. Clutched to his chest was his favourite teddy; his arms – even in sleep – wrapping it in a tight embrace with one plump hand clutching at its fluffy foot. And those fingers! Each one with its dimpled knuckle, soft skin and miniature nail seemed a tiny testament to the human ability for perfection.
She was filled with a rush of love and the sudden wild need to scoop him up in her arms, to bury her face in the soft skin of his neck and breath in his baby scent. Her arms ached at the thought.
Behind her, a door slammed and she was jarred suddenly from her reverie. She heard the sound of shoes being kicked off and a moment later a lanky young man strode into the room.
“Alright Mum?” He said, brushing her arm not-unaffectionately as strode past her to the fridge “Just grabbing some lunch… is there any food?” Then, noticing her attention was still fixed on something in her hands, he came and peered over her shoulder: “What have you got there?”
She sighed lightly, shaking herself back into the present: “Yes of course there’s food, darling, unless you and your brother have eaten it all since I last looked… which actually wouldn’t surprise me…” She said with fond exasperation. Then, returning her attention again to what was in her hands, she responded to his other query: “I was just looking at one of your baby photos – I found it in a drawer when I was clearing some things out. It took me back.”
She looked once more at the tiny face in the picture and then up at the distinctly larger one now next to her. She searched his features. Was there a trace of the baby there still? Perhaps in the curve of his lip? The shape of his brow?
She sighed again. He was already turning to move across the room. He was his own person now; always going somewhere, meeting someone or off doing something-or-other. He was a lovely lad and she was proud of him, but sometimes she longed to be the centre of his universe again. These days she felt like merely an orbiting satellite.
She turned to place the photo on a shelf and was surprised to feel a hand on her shoulder.“You’re getting all sentimental again aren’t you?” he said, “Come on, make me a cup of tea and I’ll let you bore me with tales of how cute I used to be!”
He smiled at her and suddenly she saw before her not just the teenager he now was, but the proud ten-year-old who’d won the award at school, the excited six-year-old who’d just got his new bike, the four-year-old dancing wildly round the kitchen table, the toddler running into her arms and, yes, even the baby sleeping contentedly, arms wrapped tightly round his favourite teddy.
A bit of a soppy story from me today! I was looking at my youngest boy this morning (he’s 14 months old now) and thinking how gorgeous he is and how part of me can’t bear the idea of him – or his brothers – getting any older. I just want them to stay my adorable little guys forever! But, of course, they won’t and really I don’t want them to. I love watching them grow up and I hope one day to see them turn into lovely men.
And that’s what inspired me to write this story. I was trying to capture a sense of continuing nature of motherhood and that somehow – even when they’re huge people with massive feet – they are still and always the tiny life we first created. (I hope – my oldest is only six – but time will tell!)
I wrote it with the baby at my feet (although he is now having a nap) so it’s a bit rushed… oh, and he’s now waking up so I’d better just publish this!