When my son was born six years ago, my husband dutifully
filled out the first few pages of his baby book as I sat on the couch trying to
nurse our son, shell-shocked. Weight at
birth: 7 lbs., 4 oz. Length: 21 inches. Eye color: blue/grey. But within
weeks, the baby book was already gathering dust. In those early months of new parenthood, we could
barely keep ourselves fed and bathed, let alone make time to keep up with
jotting down milestones.
But one day when my son took an unexpectedly long nap in his
swing, I found myself at my laptop, writing him a letter:
In the middle of the
night a few nights ago, Daddy looked at you, nestled in bed between us and
said, "Isn't he the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?" And you are.
The words poured out quickly, as if they'd been stored in my
body, waiting to get out. In between typing, I watched my little boy swing side
to side, his arms occasionally lifting up into the startle reflex. Writing to
him felt natural, as if I were telling a future, older version of him a story.
When you sleep, your
arms float up like you're conducting music, and we call you "The Maestro." We
love our little Maestro so much.
I am so glad that I took the time to memorialize these memories. Babies and kids change so swiftly.
I continued writing to him over the months to come. I liked
capturing the little moments of our days, especially as he was changing so
quickly. In retrospect, it also helped me process some of what I was feeling as
a new mom.
When he was 7 months, I wrote:
I knew I would love
you, little boy, but I didn't know the depth or intensity of it. I didn't know
that you would capsize my heart. Turn me inside out. I didn't know that I would
do anything in the world to protect you.
Because postpartum depression hit me hard after my son's
birth, I'm especially grateful that I wrote down these small moments of love.
In my memory, those months were a blur of awfulness; I was exhausted, broken
and lost. Perhaps worst of all, I feared I was disconnected from my baby. But
in reality, though it was an outrageously difficult time, it was also a time
peppered with love and connection.
When he was 11 months:
You're so proud of all
your new tricks—you can clap when we say, "Clapping." And your latest skill—waving. You wave both hands at the same time, fingers closing down on
the bases of your palms. It's the cutest thing I've ever laid eyes on.
At almost 2:
You are so funny. Right
now, you're in deep love with Elmo. A few weeks ago, you woke in the middle of
the night, said, "Melmo" and promptly went back to sleep. And lately you've
taken to carrying around a small jar of cinnamon around the house with you.
When you want it, you point up at the spice jars and say, "mon-mon."
While I don't feel the need to remember exactly how old my
son was when his third tooth poked through, I am so glad that I took the time
to memorialize these memories. Babies and kids change so swiftly; some of the
phases that felt like they'd take forever are now overshadowed by the current challenges
and obsessions of the day.