Dot writes: Ken’s birthday post was more negative in tone than I expected, especially as Ken is an enthusiastic hands-on dad (even as I speak I can hear him making comical growling noises to Hugh as he – Ken, that is – cooks dinner; my mum is there as well, helping to prevent Hugh getting too deeply entangled in the cooking process). It’s true that life has changed completely for us and that there are some things we don’t get to do any more, or that are very difficult. But we had our twenties to take long lie-ins, make impulsive trips away and enjoy leisurely posh lunches. I find myself wondering now what on earth we did with all the time we had (we can’t have been in restaurants the whole time. I guess I used to do research). Our lives now are so full of incident.
As Ken says, the year hasn’t gone quickly: rather, the hours and weeks have become extraordinarily detailed, as though from looking out at a far-off vista of trees we had turned to minutely examining a crowded rock-garden, tracing the filaments of its intricate mosses and discovering its many tiny creatures. Each day, Hugh doesn’t do much, really: he wakes and eats and plays, takes naps, has nappy-changes, fusses and smiles; but in the daily course of these unspectacular activities he has utterly transformed himself. He was a little soft sucking blob and he is now a child who walks, notices, and has his own definite, not always convenient plans. Today we went to Dundrum shopping centre, which we visited when he was three days old and only just back from the hospital. Then he lay in his pram and slept. This time he walked most of the way from the new Hamley’s toy store back to the main building – perhaps two hundred yards – stopping to pull at some interesting chairs in a cafe, inspect the blue Christmas lights, and crouch down carefully to finger a door-stop. He can’t talk but he is hardly a baby any more.
I’ve thought often that there should be a special kind of writing for writing down the things that everybody tells you about having a baby but that still amaze you, that you only truly realise when they are real.
YOU WILL CONSIDER 7AM A LIE-IN.
IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO LOOK AFTER A WAKING BABY AND WRITE AN ACADEMIC ARTICLE AT THE SAME TIME.
YOU WILL BE EMOTIONALLY AT THE MERCY OF A PERSON WITHOUT ANY SENSE OF PHYSICAL DANGER.
YOUR LIFE WILL CHANGE UTTERLY.
I loved Hugh when he was a week old, and three months old, and six months, and nine months, but I don’t wish to have any of those times back. I like how he is now, and I’m excited about what he is about to become.
Here are some more pictures of Hugh and his friends on his birthday.
L to R: Hugh, me, Jonah (nearly three), Lucas (one year, one-and-a-half-weeks), Dave, Sarah.
Karel (who will be one on 21st November) and Lucas.
It’s windy tonight. I remember when I was in labour listening to the wind that was loud in the trees outside, bending under the contractions and listening to the energy and wildness of that night.