One of my favorite things is the deliberate, languorous stretch of the newborn: their little bodies uncurl themselves s-s-l-l-o-o-w-w-l-ly, with chins jutting out, heads moving side to side as if to protest “No! I won’t rouse!” while their elbows push out and their tiny little knees bunch up.
This little ritual, usually precipitated by the lightest of feathery kisses on her soft cheek, was, for many months, the best way I could ever imagine starting our day.
Now, the ritual is louder, more active: I hear her laughter and squeals of delight and lay still, ears poised to catch the consonant-vowel combinations she so casually drops into her stream of babbling come through the monitor. I hear the distinct “thump” as she kicks the crib mattress and wonder what position I will find her in (we don’t like to repeat our geographic feats, you see.)
I walk softly into her room, undetected for a moment. She is usually busy chattering conspiratorially with her lovey, and when she looks up and sees me there, she is a wriggling, giggling, gasping bundle of exhilaration. No doubt about it, she is ready to start her day.
Those moments, when we meet eyes and she laughs and smiles and her arms thrash and her legs flail and if she could, she would bound out of her crib and into my arms completely by her own volition, are the best way I could ever imagine starting a day.
It hit me recently that this other routine of ours, this rhythm we found, also means the slow, lazy stretch of the newborn is no more. Never more.
I want to carve that image into my memory permanently, so it does not slip away the way time seems to these days. I don’t want to say this is bittersweet because there is no bitter. Just a wistfulness, and the exhortation that time must slow down. Not because I want her to stay a baby—knowing her sparkly self now, I cannot wait to see the person she becomes. But rather, because as I sometimes whisper in her ear at night when she curls up on my shoulder and settles in for a sleepy hug,
It is too good to go this fast.
I don’t want to miss a minute of it.