When I think back to the newborn days with my first baby, it all seems very special. I remember being sat in the lounge in the evenings with my husband, the baby curled up asleep on his chest, while I sipped a glass of wine, replied to congratulatory messages from family overseas, and enjoyed a feeling of true happiness.
When I think back to these special times, with the three of us cocooned so happily in our villa together in the weeks after his birth, I’m actually a bit jealous of myself.
Then there was the time that we flew back to the UK and we went on an idyllic holiday to Cornwall with cousins and siblings. We spent time on the beach, enjoyed long pub lunches with our sleeping babies alongside us in their prams, and barbecued in the evenings with glasses of wine and howls of laughter.
I wish we could do it all again.
There was the family holiday to Thailand, where we played on the beach by day and ate our own body weight in chicken satay by night. And the afternoons drinking coffee with my mummy friends in the early days of being a mother, our babies taking it in turns to feed, cry, and play. And then my second pregnancy, when I breezed around with my growing bump and toddler, counting down the days until my next appointment with my obstetrician and giddy with excitement about what was to come.
Someone lead me to a time machine. I want to go back.
But the thing is, it took the benefit of hindsight to realise just how wonderful these moments were.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy them at the time, because I did. But if I think really hard, shut my eyes tight and take myself back to those heady newborn days or those holidays on the sand, I can remember feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and really quite stressed at times. It wasn’t ever quite as rosy and carefree as my memory suggests.
With our newborn, I remember moments when my eyes stung so much with tiredness that I nodded off in between sentences to my husband. I remember walking around in clothes covered in milky sick, having not showered for three days straight, and not even caring. I remember crying with the baby blues as I missed seeing my doctor for our regular appointments (yes, really). I remember wondering if motherhood was going to be all about tired eyes, sicky clothes, and blubbing on the sofa. I remember fearing that it would.
And then the holidays, I remember stressing about the packing, spending hours and hours in an unfamiliar room trying to get him to sleep, nearly crying when half of my hair started falling out in the shower one morning (the 4-month shred, as I have since nicknamed it), and only spending half an hour on the beach as I was worried he was too hot / too cold / too tired / too over-stimulated (or all of the above).
If I think really hard, I can remember these things, but it’s like my mind has shut them out.
Having chatted to friends on this subject, I have realised that this supernatural ability to put a rosy glow on every memory is part of motherhood. It’s like Mother Nature is trying her best to make us forget the hard bits of motherhood so we do it again.
But she’s also also doing us a favour. As let’s face it, these memories will become more and more precious as time goes on, so they might as well be good ones.
By the time my second baby came along, I was clued up to this hindsight thing and I kept reminding myself that I would look back on this time and treasure it. I knew it was a special time that I would remember forever, so I tried to appreciate every moment, even the moments when I was covered in sick and hadn’t showered for three days. I cocooned myself in that apartment with my husband, baby, and toddler, and tried to experience happiness in the moment too. It wasn’t always easy, but I gave it my best shot.
So would I really go back if I could?
Not a chance.
When I think back to just this afternoon, with two boys running around a play area with the wind in their hair and smiles in their eyes, I wouldn’t trade it for a second.
But the stinker of a nappy just before bed? You’re welcome to that hindsight, you’re very welcome to that.