I've been trying to think about why it is, that it's so easy to forget your own children as they were at six months old. I can barely remember Max or Oli being the age at which Jack is now. I suppose it's such a tiny fraction of their lives (and mine), that that's why it gets swallowed up in the abyss of forgotten things. After all, children are toddlers for a year, but only a week old for a day. Blink, and they are 2 weeks, then a month. Perhaps it is also because you can't remember how you didn't know this child like you do now.
It feels as if, first there is the rainstorm. It is what it is, and you deal the way you do, and then a stream appears. The water's moving quickly and yet you feel like nothing will ever change. You will always be here, watching this kind of water, on this kind of river bank, always able to step across the stream. And then the water level rises and every day the picture of your child, the character, becomes a little fuller. You know the eczema on his thumb and the milk spots under his chin. You know the smell of formula on his breath and how his eyelashes have grown. You know how he smiles for his brothers and looks at you to be reassured. He loves his bath, you find out, and you notice how his feet are the length of your thumb. You know how he pulls his socks off and sucks them and looks amused and startled when he rolls himself over, and how he marvels at his hands and smiling, grips your hair when you lean in to his cot. You know how he slips to one side in his high chair, and how he'd be nursing forever if he could. You know the feeling of his cold fingers and sharp nails on your chest, and how he'll sleep in broad daylight, tolerating the fact that you haven't found the time to put up curtains in his room.
I begin to piece the jigsaw of this boy together, pulling genes from here and there; the dimples, the turn of his mouth and the curve of his nose. And each day the water runs quicker and the river gets wider. Not so easy to step across. And sure enough he's a month older and I swore I'd never imagined I'd be weaning him. But here it is and I look back and can barely remember that first rainstorm, when I couldn't see for the drizzle and the fog. Jack's head gets heavier and his eyes brighten and he chuckles and smiles and seeks me out and when his brothers maul him, his look asks me, 'has this been authorized?' I so want to look and look at Jack and live his every moment, to say 'bouncing butterball' to him and watch him giggle, mouth wide, at the breath-pumping consonants. But it isn't just about observation. I am part of the landscape, I'm changing too and in this place there are two more rivers - moving so fast and yet changing ever so gradually - and so much to discover.