Golden eras usually take on their Midas hue once they are firmly in the past- whether it’s the boingy slenderness of one’s teenage figure (which at the time you thought was porky), the black and white films or early modern paintings which gather acclaim long after their stars and creators are dead, or school days which are the “best of your life” (though I’ve never been down with this one, personally) . Generally the cliche is true: we don’t know what we’ve got til it’s gone. As the passing of time clears away the everyday detritus of life, our memories become distilled and we recognise a golden age as being just that, all the more poignant because we never realised at the time what lay in our hands. That’s why they invented nostalgia.
I’ve written more here recently about the hard bits of having a baby than I have about the gorgeous bits. But, though I melt down at some point almost daily (usually around naptime, and nb: she’s had two freakishly long naps this week, and what did I do with the beautiful free time? Checked she was breathing, and stood in the middle of my bedroom listening for stirrings from the nursery, frightened of breaking the spell, mostly), the storm clouds are dark yet usually pass quickly.
These moments aside, I’m experiencing something I never have before, something which makes me want to skip among the chimney pots: I’m acutely aware that this is a golden time in my life, and I’m not taking it for granted in the way that it’s so easy to do with golden eras. Sometimes when I look at Leila, my vision is almost sepia-tinted; it’s as though I’m already looking back at this time, I’m nostalgic for it though I’m smack bang in the middle of it. I look at her and I know: this is it. This is what I was looking for.
I’m finding it hard to express what I’m trying to say. I suppose the thing is, she’s making me live in the moment, whether that moment is hilarious or heart-melting or frustrating or covered in sweet potato mush, expelled unceremoniously courtesy of a hearty mid-dinner raspberry (G thinks she’s a sensible girl, to realise so early that sweet potato is all kinds of wrong).
I’ve never, truly, lived in the moment before. My mind has always analysed the past or riddled away anxiously at the future. I’ve always found myself wondering- is it enough? Am I enough?
These days, it’s enough. Smelling her fuzzypeg head is enough. A wacky open-mouthed smile is enough. Bawling as I wonder out loud why I don’t know what on earth I’m doing, even that is enough to keep me in the moment. I know what I’ve got. And it’s golden.