As the snow fell this afternoon, covering our little lane all in white, I could sense that Christmassy feeling stirring in me. After vowing never to look at a Christmas tree ever again last December, it’s a relief that the approaching festive season is making me feel giddy rather than queasy. In fact I’m ready to make up for the ‘lost’ Christmas last year and doubly enjoy our little man’s first Christmas and one as a family of five.
Baby firsts. They’re a funny old thing aren’t they?
They’re super exciting. They make you explode with pride and release a whole new wave of love for the little person that is growing and learning before your very eyes. But lets be honest, they can also bring a whole lot of grief with them too. The pressure to record and appropriately mark every milestone can be overwhelming and the expectation for perfection more often than not can lead to disappointment.
Why? Because life’s not perfect yet we see perfection depicted all around us. And so we strive for it. Inspiration rapidly evolves into obligation and suddenly we’re just trying to keep up with everyone else. Only, despite what you might see on Instagram, most parents are in the same boat. Winging it for all they’re worth.
A few days ago I remembered that I hadn’t got round to taking TJ’s newborn footprint. A first record of his beautiful little feet. I can’t explain the disappointment, self resentment and frustration that consumed that next hour or so. I had created such an uncompromising bucket list for these precious first months of Theo’s life, that by missing this ‘first’, I felt like I’d failed at motherhood. I enjoyed a one-woman pity party where the only music was a broken record that has me spiralling into serious self deprecation.
What’s the point in trying to get it right, when I always get it wrong?
Man, I wish I could go back in time so I could do everything properly.
I bet I’m the only mother that forgets to do stuff like this.
My children deserve someone better. Someone who remembers to make newborn footprints.
I kid you not, that’s where I found myself – very quickly sucked into that dangerous party game of comparison. All over a bit of paint on a bit of paper. I wasted precious time and energy, that could have been spent making my baby giggle and kissing his chubby cheeks. It should have been spent enjoying him.
Today my baby boy rolled over. For the first time ever. He did it while he was expressing full blown rage at being put on his tummy ‘yet again’ (he’s not a fan – he’d much rather be held upright and carried around like a king in his chariot) and I was so busy trying to distract him from his rage that I didn’t see it coming. I don’t think he saw it coming either to be honest, going on the shocked look on his face. My son does indignant very well. My phone was on the other side of the room – not handy enough to capture it. I rolled him back over, ran to grab my phone and filmed him in the vain hope he’d do it again and we’d call that the ‘real’ first roll over. Only all I captured was an angry baby continuously face-planting the blanket while he shouted for me to pick him up.
It was nowhere near the glossy ‘first’ moment I dreamed of.
But you know what? I soon figured that’s ok. After a few moments of internalising reality vs expectation, I made the decision to just be present. With my baby. Right then. Just enjoying him… And sending jubilant messages to family of our boy’s agility and finesse. I could choose to mourn that lack of perfection in that moment or actually make myself part of that moment.
There’s a freedom that comes with letting go of perfection and the expectation to get everything ‘just right’ all the time. A friendship with imperfection sits so much lighter on your shoulders.
And it’s way more fun.
Mrs C x
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