Miss Elma is a sunshine baby. Despite being born in the middle of winter, and it being dark at the actual moment of her birth, the next morning was light and beautiful, sparkling across the frost on the cars parked outside the hospital, dancing all the way to my tiny new baby, wrapped up in layers of cotton, wool and the ubiquitous green hospital blanket, casting aside the rain and gloom of the previous week.
And through the cold spring, the late snows and the weeks and weeks of near constant drizzle, she has stayed sunny and bright, a happy joyful little baby.
It gives me such pleasure to share her smiles, to provoke a little fit of tiny giggles, to see her focus on someone she loves from across a room, study them intently and then brighten into a beam of happiness when she recognises them; and just as much pleasure to be behind the lens. In each of the thousands of photos of the girls I’ve got a gateway to the memory, the visual stimulus to bring back the rest of the feelings of that moment.
And so I can preserve them, treasure them, and save them up against a rainy day. Literally and figuratively.
Smiles for Grandpa on our holiday in Devon a few weeks ago as he told her about the beautiful flowers in his garden.
Smiles for Grandma to distract her from the not so stealthy attempt to eat her glasses, the chain, or whatever part of either came nearest to her mouth.
Smiles for Grandad, turning to slight bemusement at the sight of Mummy, perilously balanced over the flower bed, ducking foliage to get a clear picture through the greenhouse.
Smiles for Great-Gran, oldest and youngest cuddled up together.
Extra special smiles for Daddy, who, having watched a documentary recently suggesting that mice made their babies more intelligent by licking them frequently, is adopting the scientific approach to parenting and covering both girls in even more kisses at every opportunity,
And then there are the relieved smiles of a little girl whose Mama had allowed herself to become too far away, but who has now returned to scoop her up in enveloping arms; the smiles that come in the middle of a feed, breaking off from the serious job of nursing to gaze adoringly upwards with a little milky burp; the smile that breaks off the morning chirruping as I scuttle to pick up a still sleepy baby; or those early morning smiles, when we’re the only people awake in the house, to tell me that there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
Those smiles, they’re all mine.