Knowing that everything comes to an end is a gift of experience, a consolation gift for knowing that we ourselves are coming to an end. Before we get it, we live in a continuous present, and imagine that the future as more of that present. Happiness is endless happiness, innocent of its own sure passing. Pain is endless pain.
-Tobias Wolff, This Boy’s Life
So, I’ll be honest: I haven’t been snuggled up with Tucker on the couch the last few weeks sighing and cooing over how much I love the newborn stage. It’s not that I don’t love the newborn stage– just that I’ll love it more in retrospect, after I’ve slept and showered and done laundry on a more regular basis.
Instead, I’ve been spending most of my time at home looking at scrawny arms and legs and thinking–
Grow, Baby, Grow!
Listening to cranking on the monitor and thinking–
Sleep, Baby, Sleep!
Looking at the tiny black stump on his belly and thinking–
Off, off, stump!
I’ve been willing this time to pass, because when you’re in it, it seems interminable. Exhaustion is endless exhaustion.
And then on Monday, day 13 in real life but but day forty million and twelve to my impatient mind–
And then at the next diaper change, it was off. And he’s up over his birth weight, and he’s sleeping much better at night this week.
Before I know it, this all will have come to an end.
Lately the phrase lean into it has been coming to mind. I’ve decided I’m going to try to lean into this newborn phase– the last newborn phase this house is likely to experience– discomfort, exhaustion, frustration, hormonal roller coaster and all. Leaning in sounds so much better than pulling away, wishing time would pass to suit my whims [insofar as sleeping and showering are whims].
And although the clock does seem to be ticking away so slowly right now, I know that pain is not endless, nor is happiness. So I will take them both, for what they are, when they are.
Or at least– I will try.