This fleeting, precious time

Tomorrow Sonja will be ten weeks old. At some point, I suppose, we will stop counting weeks and start counting months. If the other ladies at Mommy and Me yoga are any indication, the time is coming soon. It seems like everyone with a baby older than four months refers to her child’s age in months rather than weeks. Likewise, I guess when the baby gets to about two years you stop counting months and start counting years. By your thirties you only really note the passing of decades.

It’s a pretty good indication of how life slowed down when the baby arrived and has gradually, almost imperceptibly, been speeding up. Watching her over the past ten weeks has been like watching a series of time-lapse photographs. She changes so fast; one week she is flailing her arms and blinking blindly at the couch, and a few weeks later she’s looking you in the face, smiling and pulling your finger toward her mouth. It can make me sad: it reminds me of the irresistible pull of time, how none of us will ever again be as young as we are right now.

But it also reminds me that not all aging is loss. We greet most of Sonja’s changes with joy. A few weeks ago she was struggling many times a day with GI discomfort as she tried to process what she ate. By now, though, her digestive system seems to have matured some, and she rarely thrashes around in gassy discomfort these days. She’s also working on developing a laugh, starting with her open-mouthed smile and experimenting with different kinds of accompanying sound. And on several recent nights she has slept for seven hours IN A ROW.

For those of us who are counting in decades the changes we notice tend to be things like gray hairs, pot bellies (especially those of us whose bellies have been stretched out by babies!), and spotted skin, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only changes we go through as we age. I’ve begun to realize that although my celebrate-able changes aren’t as swift or as close to the surface as Sonja’s, they’re definitely there. For example: I think I have become mellower, gentler, and more confident than I used to be, so that I rarely struggle anymore with the doubts and rages that plagued me at twenty. Thinking about all the developments we have to look forward to, in both Sonja and ourselves, makes the breathtaking speed of time passing a little easier to bear.

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