Not too long ago, a coworker brought his twin baby boys into work for a visit.
Being a baby lover, I swooped one up to hold while another coworker, also a mother, snatched the other one. Within seconds, we were right back in baby-holding mode complete with the perfect placement and the slow rock back and forth. You know, once a mom, always a mom. It’s something you just never forget.
But, as we stood there and talked for a little while, I noticed that my arm was getting extremely tired from holding that sweet baby. I mean, my baby is 4 so it has been a while since I just stood and held a child while catching up. But still, it wasn’t that long ago!
Yet, somehow, my muscle memory had already faded. For a good four years straight, I had either a newborn propped up against my chest or a toddler hanging off my hip. Surely, holding a baby for just a few minutes would be something my muscles would not forget so quick.
But they had. And honestly, so had I.
In the chaotic times of juggling my girls as brand new babies and toddlers, I remember thinking that I would never forget those moments. The good — the sweet snuggles and soft kisses on freshly bathed newborn heads — and the bad — the sleep-fighting all-nighters that were pulled. In those moments, I was sure I would be able to sink back into my memories at any time and have a clear picture of what it felt like.
In fact, I was so sure of it that I was OK with not filling out their baby books — well, that and I literally felt like I had no time to do it! I think Maylie may have the first two pages complete, but honestly, I am not even sure I know where it is. Reagan’s baby book most definitely still has the plastic sheet over the cover and it is hiding somewhere.
But I was good with it, because I would remember. Surely, every first word, every laugh, every step, every milestone would be etched into my brain and I could relay it back to them at any time. I was confident that I would never forget each and every event I experienced with my girls.
Until recently, when they started prodding about little details. What was their first word? Maylie’s was definitely “Dada” I am sure of it. And Reagan’s was “Mama.” Or was it “baba” (bottle). Wait, maybe I have it backwards — Maylie said “baba” and then “dada.” Heck, I don’t know!
Maylie got her first tooth at 9 months. I am not sure when Reagan got any of her teeth. Maylie talked early and walked late and Reagan was running circles before age 1 but couldn’t get a word in edgewise with her sister. That, I do remember. But that’s about the gist of it.
That’s the thing about the present. It seems so clear and memorable. But when the days all mash together with only tiny differences, milestones get lost in the weeds. Especially with the second child.
Just like my muscles failed to remember all the times they rocked a cuddly baby, my mind also has trouble putting together – and differentiating - all the pieces of the first couple of years with my girls.
Don’t get me wrong, It’s not that I don’t remember it AT all, it’s just that, unlike what I thought, I don’t remember it ALL.
I have realized that even the memories we are making right now that seem so inked in my memory bank will soon become just another page that I am digging for in my kids’ childhood book in my mind.
Sure, there will be moments that are etched so clear that I will always remember– Maylie singing and clapping along to her favorite song as a toddler and Reagan serenading her cheese slice at a year old. But there are so many present times that I never thought I would forget.
Just as my arm muscles will never be in baby shape like they were when I first had my girls, my memory will never be able to completely dive back into those times.
Thankfully, I took a lot pictures and I’ll continue to take the pictures and share our stories on social media so they pop up annually to remind me. While I don’t think about our past all the time, nor can I recall every detail, I love looking through and reminiscing on all the fun times I do remember.
Oh, and when I can - tired arms and all -I’ll also hold a baby just to soak in everything it brings me back to.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.