We’re in a coffee shop, I’m talking to a friend. Another friend across the table catches my eye and nods towards you. You’re perched on my knee, engrossed in something. I look down. You’ve unscrewed the pepper lid and tipped the contents onto the table. That’s the signal – coffee time is over, we should go.
We’re in the supermarket. You have one handle of the basket, and I have the other. You pick up a melon and throw it in. “We don’t need a melon,” I say. “But we do!” you insist. I take out the melon. You pick up a cucumber and throw that in. A woman laughs. “I know it’s maddening when you’re in the middle of it,” she says, “But god I miss those days.”
We’re at the till. You want to put the groceries on the belt. I let you. I pick my phone out of my pocket to check a message. You put our groceries in with those of the woman on front. I spot your efforts and retrieve our bread and milk and bananas (and not melon and not cucumber) and apologise to the woman. She smiles and waves my apology away.
We’re in the car. You want a banana. I pass one to you and start driving. I check in the rearview mirror. All good. At the lights, I look back. You’re smashing the banana – the entire banana – into your jeans. “What are you doing! Stop!” I say. OK, I shout. “But mummy, I is cleaning my trousers,” you explain. “You can’t clean trousers with banana!” I say. “You can mummy,” is your reply, and you carry on. My arguments are futile. And I’m driving. There’s nothing I can do.
We’re at home. I’m chopping peppers and frying onion. You’ve gone quiet. That’s not a good sign. I peer around the corner. You’re colouring on the floor.
I confiscate the crayons and ask you to help make dinner instead. You’re in charge of peppers. I’m in charge of garlic. We’re in harmony. Until I look over and see that you’re firing onion skin and pepper seeds into the oven dish along with your chunks of pepper.
I separate the food from the waste and set you down on the floor with some Lego. I keep cooking, you keep playing. I check my email. I notice you’re gone. You’re in the bathroom, filling toy cups with water and pouring it onto the floor. “But I is just playing,” you tell me.
Of course you are.
I can’t take my eyes off you.
I pick you up and carry you upstairs to change your now very wet clothes. You wrap your arms tightly around my neck and hug me close. “I sorry mummy, we be fwends?” you say. Of course we be fwends. I can’t stay mad at you.
You sit on your bed, your still-short legs stretched straight out on front. You wriggle your toes, and ask me to do “This little piggy eat bread and peas”. I comply willingly. You wait in nervous, excited anticipation for the tickle at the end.
Your face lights up when it comes – you throw your head back and laugh out loud, then tell me to stop, then tell me to do it again.
Your dirty-blond hair; jagged at the front – though you don’t know or care. Curls at the back – because I’m holding on to the baby.
Your small hands that grip my face, squeezing me too tightly. But I can’t tell you to stop because I don’t want you to stop.
Your baby cheeks, the ones I can’t stop rubbing and kissing, even when you tell me not to, because you’re too big for kisses.
Your shining eyes – full of excitement at the tickles, and joy at the attention. And love. And fun. Because you’re my fun baby – dramatic, and stormy and sulky and loud, but mostly fun.
I sit back. I look at you. I shake my head slightly. My eyes go from the crooked fringe lying in disarray on your forehead, to the small bruises on your pale but sturdy legs. I take it all in – I take you in. For the hundredth time today.
I don’t want to be anywhere else, but sitting on the floor; watching you laughing.
You’re beautiful, just beautiful.
I can’t take my eyes off you.
For something completely different: you might be interested in this article I wrote last week for the Independent (Mothers and Babies magazine), about the “clear your plate” mentality that many of us have inherited from our parents, but which may be teaching our children unhealthy eating habits: Enough is Enough
25 thoughts on “I Can’t Take my Eyes Off You”
Brought a tear to my eyes ….. that I can’t take off my little one either!
Such a lovely way to capture the whole story!
Keep up the excellent writing that explains exactly what so many of us working mothers are going through!! I read every blog!
Nicola thank you for the lovely, lovely comment – I read it when I was out last night (sneaky check online when no-one was looking 🙂 ) and it brought a huge smile to my face – thank you.
Realky beautiful, made me cry!
Naomi Lavelle recently posted…Another week in Dinners (linky)
Oh Naomi, thank you!
Just sums up exactly how I feel…marvellous post…..darn you – you’ve made me cry again! Your little boy will read this when he’s all grown up and know just how loved he was and is xx
Ah thanks Tracy, what a lovely thing to say – thank you x
Just lovely. I almost want another. 🙂
Maud recently posted…Testing, testing: A School Rant
Thanks Maud, me too sometimes but then I get sense 🙂
I couldn’t love this more.
Jill recently posted…Are you sick of super foods yet?
thanks Jill, I always get the feeling we have similar little boys!
Aw, love that post. I can totally relate – Cian is just like that!
And now you have another one to come along and be just like that too – all ahead – how lovely!
My Baby has woken for the tenth time tonight. I’m off to drink me some snuggles.
Helen recently posted…The Nine Stages of Maternity Leave
Drink in those snuggles. But also, it’s totally fine if you don’t love being woken ten times. Hope tonight is better!
Lovely, in tears here.
Aisling recently posted…Keeping the Beaker Half-Full!
This is gorgeous Andrea, crying and nodding while reading. All so familiar. Our blond little babas have us wrapped around their fingers!
Life on Hushabye Farm recently posted…A Picture Tells a Thousand Lies
They do, don’t they! My guy pushed me to my LIMITS today. Replying to these comments is a good reminder of how quickly I forget again to hold onto all the good stuff when my patience is tested.
Gorgeous post for a gorgeous boy. I find myself doing that more and more as my girls get bigger and bigger and I can’t quite believe it’s happening.
Sadhbh @ Where Wishes Come From recently posted…Pyrographic Progress Report
Thanks Sadhbh. I wonder do our kids have any sense of what’s going through our heads when we’re gazing at them 🙂
I read thid post earlier nodding, crying and agreeing. Can totally relate even with a four year old. It’s all about to start again ninow that little man is on his feet. Lovely post!
Kellie Kearney recently posted…She’s Gone VIRAL!!
Thanks Kellie! Yes, it’s when they get on their feet isn’t it – they just take off, and there’s no looking away!
Andrea this is such a fantastic post. It has me sobbing. I want to freeze time and keep my baby forever.
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