Recently, when my parents were in town, my mom said something that for some reason has stuck with me.
She was holding LM, and had a strange look on her face. I asked her if she needed me to hold her, and she just shook her head. So I asked her if she was okay.
“Yes,” she said. “I’m making a memory.”
I didn’t ask her what she meant. But her comment has been sticking with me. Because as I near the halfway point of my not-nearly-long-enough unpaid maternity leave, I know exactly what she meant. And I felt my stomach sink somewhat, as I realized that I need to stop and capture the moments more than I’m already doing.
I treat maternity leave like I treat everything. Each week I make a to-do list of things I want to get done. I’ve started making daily lists, and crossing things off makes me feel accomplished. For example, here was yesterday’s list:
(full disclosure: Looking at this list makes me feel somewhat crazy. And yes, I did accomplish all of the list yesterday …)
So, her comment has had me wondering – is this really how I should be spending my leave? Is this really how I want to be spending my time? If I can’t just relax and enjoy the moments on my maternity leave, will I ever be able to?
Then, last night, it was raining, so in lieu of our usual nightly walk, we were all sitting on the porch watching the storm. FW was on B’s lap and I was holding LM. I found myself thinking about what I should put on the next day’s list, and I stopped myself. I took a deep breath in and looked around. I closed my eyes, picturing how the four of us must look – a dad and his son, a mother with her newborn daughter. I immediately thought, I am so lucky. With my eyes opened, I started to take it all in. The smell of the rain. The sound of the storm. FW’s face and long eyelashes. LM’s chubby cheeks. I thought about taking a picture of the four of us to capture what we looked like, but stopped myself. I didn’t have to – I was making a memory. And with slight tears in my eyes, I realized exactly what my mom meant and what she’d been doing.
The days and weeks go by too fast. I can’t stop time or change how many minutes are in an hour or hours are in a day. And there’s nothing I can do about it. But maybe if I stop each day and look around, the memories will last a little longer.