“Baby, do you want a tomato and avocado sandwich?” my husband calls from the kitchen. Yes, my husband is amazing. However, this isn’t about his sandwich making skills but about how, in that split second of asking, I was transported back to a moment in time so very different from now and that power of memory just hits.
I’m sat in our first home, just hours after arriving home from hospital with Georgia. I am 25. I can see the beautiful Georgian sash window in front of me, leading on to the tiny little patch of grass that we used to think we didn’t have time to cut. The fireplace, to my left, looks beautiful where we have just had a friend expose and re-point the brickwork. Ray Charles, singing Georgia On My Mind, a present from my father after having my daughter, plays softly on the stereo. I can see the modern cream chair, that we were so excited to buy, from IKEA, nestled next to the bookshelves either side of the fireplace, filled with my husband’s law books and my chick lit I was so fond of in my 20s. Smells of sandalwood waft through the room, a favourite aroma of ours at the time. And there, on my lap, is you. My beautiful baby girl. We are now a family. We are a three.
Your tiny hand curls around my little finger as you feed. Your eyes close in that milk drunk content baby way. Your toes push against the seams of the tiny babygro and you smell of that delicious newborn baby smell. I have never felt so complete. You are only days old and only weeks from now I will sob as the emotion of anyone ever hurting you fills me, consumes me. And, from the kitchen, my husband, who is on paternity leave, calls “Baby, do you want a tomato and avocado sandwich?”
But, back to now. You’re sat opposite me on another cream chair and you’re 17. The power of memory and tricks of the mind have me imagining you sat with me back in our first home and I’m talking to you about you as a baby. You’re sat across from me, as I’m feeding you, in that modern IKEA chair in our little lounge of our first home, clad in cool leather leggings, straightened hair and an air of confidence that I never had. I see you both as a baby and who you are today. It is hard to comprehend that you are closer to the age I was then than you are to me now. And, in that split second, you’re you as a baby and who you are now, simultaneously. I want to tell you the love I feel, the pride I feel, never could I ever have envisaged you would become you, the excitement of having a child but the emotion of seeing you having grown so fast overwhelms me. The power of memory evokes such emotion that it is hard to believe that 17 years have passed. Never has the speed of time felt so real as now.
We rush through our lives, sometimes not taking the time to stop, to appreciate, to enjoy. The power of that memory has made me want to stop, appreciate and enjoy life so much more. Zero to 17 years in 5 seconds flat was almost too much to bear. I’m doing everything I can now to slow it down, if that is even possible!
I’ll leave you with this thought too. Mabel was a lady I used to look after in a residential care home. I was 18. On her dressing table was a picture of her wedding day. As I bathed and dressed her, she used to tell me that it only felt like yesterday. At 18 I could not comprehend that. But at 43 I can … just saying.