Six {Moments from Motherhood}

This week, our baby boy turned Six.

Every year on or around his birthday, I take some photographs. It's nice to have something taken at the exact same time every year to look back on, seeing the big and little changes in him. At the moment though, he is having a very hard time with me taking his photo. And quite honestly, this boundary is one I struggle with. I mean, duh, right? Taking photographs in general is so soothing for me, it's how i step back and process. And my children and my practicing of this art are inextricably intertwined. It's something I'll need to think about more as they grow. 

This year my first attempt at taking a few photos did not go well. I suggested going out in the garden after school, and just quickly having a few portraits. Quick and painless and done in 5. Good plan right? WRONG. I mean firstly, I should have realised my mistake when I suggested after school. Nothing good happens straight after school. EVER. It is typically the time of tiredness and surly behaviour and retreat. Secondly, I very, very rarely suggest taking photos as the sole purpose of anything. I had clearly lost my mind that day. We went to the garden, and he got mad at me and I got mad at him and it was a disaster. After roughly 3 minutes, we gave up.

The next day, we decided to head to the beach for sunset. No mention of photos, just him in his favourite place, hanging out. I packed my camera and knew that if I kept my distance and let him just be, I could probably get a few shots. I had forgotten how immersed in this place he becomes, how much he just wants to explore and run and be free. He didn't even notice my camera. He showed me rock pools and quick sand and bubbling water and waves. They are him being him. Him being Six.


I've been having feeeeeelings about Six for the past month or two. It started bubbling up when I would get the usual, casual question of 'How old are your kids?'. I would reply 'Well Sachin is 5, but almost 6, like a few weeks away you know, so really yeah, you know, almost Six I guess? Did I say that already?' Generally coming off as a crazy person.

I can't quite put my finger on it, what the feelings involved actually are. Or maybe there are just too many to narrow it down. There's no sadness, no feelings of loss of baby; he hasn't been that for a long time, and obviously he will always be our baby. But there is a change. A shifting that feels considerable and profound. We're leaving the '5 and under' category and hand in hand we're walking out of those first five years where so much happened, onto the next. 

In those five years I started to navigate this all new terrain called Motherhood, with maternity leave, then returning to work and then staying at home and then working from home. No wonder I was tired, I'm exhausted just writing it down. I travelled the ups and downs, the 'fuck this is hard' times and the 'wow this more beautiful than I imagined life could be' times. Quite honestly, the changes in me are probably too deep and subtle and far-reaching to list. I have learnt more about myself than at any other time in my life so far. I know, I know, how cliched can you get right? But seriously, becoming a round the clock provider for a tiny, dependent human will teach you stuff. Like how it is physically (but not emotionally) possible to survive on 2 hours sleep, or how after asking your kid to put some clothes on for the 5,768th time today your patience well isn't quite as deep as you assumed it would be. How strong and capable and fragile and vulnerable I can be, sometimes all at once. I learnt how central my career is to my sense of self, and what a loss of independence I could feel no longer earning my own money. I realised how screwed up the whole system is and how woman are geared to lose within it. Maybe I'll write about that stuff some time, clearly I have have thoughts. 

But back to this shared journey. My husband and I were thrown head first into getting to know each other as parents and this little baby we had made. We travelled together, always looking forward, holding each other through the harder times and immersing ourselves in those incredible highs. Becoming a three, and then later a four - building our family and making it strong and secure. Those five years are when Sachin grew and learned and evolved so much in such a short space of time, unrecognisably changing from a tiny helpless newborn to a boy who is articulate, sensitive, intelligent and kind.

So here we are at Six. The next age bracket. There is still new terrain of course. New challenges and emotions and subjects to tackle. Rather than teaching him to walk and talk or not eat sand, we're having discussions about friendship or the universe, or death and Harry Potter. There is so much pleasure in exploring these things with him, seeing his joy at discovering something he never knew before, the wonder of reading for pleasure or learning about galaxies far, far away. Tonight he read his school book about archaeology to me, telling me about the first humans 600,000 years ago, and asking me if I was impressed with his knowledge (pronounced know-ledge). I was baby, I always am. There is also the odd gut wrenching pain, when the realisations that come with growing up hit him, and hit me fresh as I see them through his eyes, and feel them with a sense of pain that wasn't there before kids. Like how death is inevitable. I know we'll have more of those as the years go on, but I guess all we can do is explore it together and talk and talk and talk some more. And be here. A steady supply of homemade cake will go far too, I hope.

My husband and I have been talking about this next stage a little bit, about these new subjects, the physical changes that will happen to our little boy over the coming years together. How we'll try to teach S about the world and his body and relationships and life, man. The wondrous and dizzying and complicated stuff. The nitty gritty. It's all gonna be there.

This journey we've been on together so far has taken us to many amazing places. It's only going to get better. Here's to Six, and the new places we'll go.

1 comment:

  1. *sniff* This was beautiful Laura. As is your boy. x