Written by Jess Raubenheimer-Free
Cover image taken by the extraordinarily talented Bright Eyes Photography
The other night I found myself scrolling through the images on my phone, looking at the pictures I took of my daughter when she was born. I have these moments where I can't quite believe how tiny she was, and how much she's changed in just 6 short months.
And so I've discovered the paradox of parenting. Where you celebrate their milestones and feel so proud that they're growing, but at the same time you want them to stay little forever. I'd always heard that this would happen, but now that I've experienced it I really understand it.
The first time I really started to feel like my baby was slipping away from me was when she started sleeping through the night. We moved her to her own room on a Friday because I was expecting a bad night. Well, it ended up being a worse night for me, with me waking up every couple of hours missing her and worrying that she was okay in her own room. I also had to pump during the night because it turned out she'd only been eating during the night because I would pick her up to feed her.
My little girl, sleeping through the night in her own room. My heart ached at her independence. At the same time, I felt so proud.
That's one of the great paradoxes of parenting. Finding the balance between holding tight and letting go at the same time. I'm certainly not an expert, but I'm learning. How to let her be independent but also being there to give her cuddles when she falls.
I feel the same way about starting solids, now that she's just about 6 months old. The idea of moving towards weaning her makes me want to cry, but it's also so exciting to think about her trying new foods and finding her favourite. Obviously I realise I don't need to wean her just because we've started solids, but we're all on a trajectory that I can't slow down. Time is our biggest enemy, because there's never enough of it.
I'll never get enough of the cuddles, the raspberries, the coos and the shrieks. The falling asleep in my arms, or the kisses on my cheek. The way she'll suck my cheek when I pick her up in the morning because she's hungry. Or the gentle (sometimes) hand on my face when she wants my attention.
And yet, time marches on.
Before we know it she'll be celebrating her first birthday, going off to daycare, making friends and learning to walk. I'll have to let her go, let her forge her own path and live her own life. All the while, revisiting the photos of my tiny little dot who was entirely dependent on me for everything.
For now, I'll savour every cuddle, celebrate every milestone and steal as many kisses as I can. I'll relish the moments we have together, make the most of the sleepy smiles in the morning, and blow raspberries back at her when she does it