Eight weeks old. My littlest daughter’s babyhood seems to be rushing past my eyes. She has fitted in so perfectly to our dynamic that it feels as though she has always been a part of our family, and I’m not the only one having to remind myself that she’s still so very new. I just can’t seem to properly remember a time without her.
Her personality is blossoming; she is our little ray of sunshine, as full of joy as her big sister, and the smiles, oh the smiles. I’ve heard it said that babies learn to smile right about the time that you’re so tired you don’t feel you can go on, then they smile and you could run a marathon or two if they wanted you to. She’s an easy baby to cherish and care for so we’ve not even got close to the sleep deprivation of legend and parenting horror stories, but her smiles would move mountains.
Whenever I smile at her she gives me a little focused stare for a few moments, just to check it’s really Mama, and then turns on the full blue-eyed beam, usually with a little wiggly boogie dance thrown in for good measure.
She’s definitely conducting an invisible orchestra from her seat at the dinner table most nights, or perhaps it’s a series of coded signals for Kitty; I wouldn’t put it past either of them to have teamed up to take over the world in only a mere eight weeks, and it might explain why Kit doesn’t want the other toddlers to play with Elma at nursery (picture a small, usually dishevelled toddler, possessively grasping the handle of the baby car seat and fiercely declaiming “Dat MINE!”); she fears they may read the girls’ code. Or of course, she could just be as much in love with Elma as we are.
In the last week Elma’s started to chatter so much more; beautiful gurgling chirrups that have all three of the rest of us crowded around her, tickling her toes and behind her ears to elicit more little giggles; she seems to find Kitty hilarious which bodes well for the future.
I’m so lucky to have two days a week when with Kitty at nursery I get to lavish all of my attention on Elma, to stroke her silky smooth baby hair, to nuzzle her cheeks and breathe in that special new baby smell, and to let her dictate the pace of our days together, and I’m clinging tightly to those moments. It’s not that I don’t want her to grow and to grow up, more than anything I want both Kitty and Elma to be the very best Kitty and Elma that they possibly can be, to fulfil their potential and live their dreams; I just want to bottle up and save these little vignettes of her first few weeks, firmly engraved in my memories.
And so I take pictures. Hundreds of pictures. Snapshots when no one is looking, capturing a second or two of family life, and more composed pictures, the ones that don’t have the dirty washing up or a pile of laundry in the background. I hope that in all of those photos, I have a sense of this little girl of mine, to prompt my all too human brain when the snuggles and hugs have got so much bigger.