Saturday, November 28, 2009

One year down...

In a few hours, Toby's first birthday party starts. It won't be a huge affair - just family and a few friends around for a BBQ and a couple of beers. Actually, the party's as much for us as it is for him - celebrating the fact that we've survived our first 12 months of parenthood. 

During the last year, the mantle of parenthood has settled on us like a heavy cloak; sweeping, swamping, and covering every moment of our lives. Every waking moment, every thing we do or think about, Toby is there in the background. Everything we plan, Toby is the first factor we have to consider. He's filled our lives to the point where, when I remember myself 18 months ago, it's like thinking about a different person. Like remembering someone I used to know from a long time ago, but have long since drifted away from.

Parenthood has, without a doubt, been the hardest journey I've ever embarked upon. The exhaustion, the fear (I've never in my life been scared driving before, but whenever I've got Toby in the car, I drive like a grandmother), the emotional ups and downs - we've had plenty of both - and, oddly, the dawning knowledge that part of your life - the part that didn't involve you being completely and utterly at the mercy of someone else's needs - is irrevocably behind you.

I've worried that the lack of time and the constant fatigue would mean the end of my writing - in the past I've been able to set aside months at a time and use them obsessively to write, at the exclusion of all else. That's not an option any more. Now, between parenthood and my new job, I write when I can squeeze in an hour here and there. And in many ways, I think it's making me a better writer.

If all this sounds rather down -it isn't. As well as being the hardest 12 months of my life, this past year has also been the best. Imogen, Toby and I have been learning to understand one another, working out how we're going to make our lives mesh into one another's and building our little family. And even now, in these early, early days, it's a family I'm so proud of. 

I love walking down the street with Toby in his stroller. I love taking him places he's never been before and watching his reactions. I love the look on his face when he tries a new flavour for the first time, or when he's doing his best to climb on top of the dog. I love the way he pokes his tongue out when he's concentrating really hard. I love the fact that he's already trying to play the piano. I love it when Min and Toby and I get on a plane together. Or travel somewhere as a family, or just kick back at home.

During the last year, the mantle of parenthood has indeed settled upon us like a heavy cloak. But it's the warmest, best cloak ever.  

Happy Birthday, Mate.


  1. Oh that first year, you've reminded me how delicate they seem (and also how surprisingly resilient). Such a magical time, and you're entering such a lovely age, the second year, when they develop all these odd systems and habits and jokes and seriousnesses, and you have no idea what's going on but you love them for it anyway. And they really seem to shoot off like a 'living arrow'.

    On Children
    Kahlil Gibran

    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.

  2. That's an awesome poem, Penni. Thanks so much for your comment. And it's such a perfect metaphor. I can't believe how quickly he's becoming his own person. Among our friends at the party today were a couple we met at the birth classes, who's son was born about a month after Toby, and we both commented on how they're now 'real people' and no longer babies. Toby's recently started using his imagination, and moving invisible things in and out of boxes, and giving them to us. It's heartbreakingly beautiful to watch, from a parent's POV.

    Am really enjoying reading your blog at the moment, too...


  3. I heard somewhere that when your child is born, it's the time to start to wear your heart on the outside of your body... or something like that! Covers a lot of things, methinks. Long time, no see, mate. Love to you, Imogen, and Toby. Will have a poke around now and see if i can find some more photos. K xx



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