This photo was taken on my couch when my first little man was about two months old. We were living in Suzhou, China. It was early January 2008 and it was snowing and hovering around or below zero. It was an amazing time. I don’t think snow ever gets old for Australians. I feel like a kid, every time. Just walking in it and listening to it crunch and squeak under your feet. I remember visiting my neighbour that winter, she lived in the same building as me, but in the adjacent tower, so there was a 10 meter walk outside between our front doors. I took the pram and the snow was so heavy I got bogged in that short little walk. I still thought it was awesome. Bogged in the snow with my pram. How cool.
My baby boy was at that wonderful baby age where you can take them anywhere and they will just eat and sleep. I remember a magic afternoon when my husband and me went into town to a bookstore/cafe/bar with more character in the door knob than all of old Shanghai put together. Well, maybe a slight touch of hyperbole there, but look, I thought it was a special place and I was high on new baby happy so I can’t be held responsible for my adjectives. I keenly recall looking out the snowy window, warm and happy, baby beside me, husband there, warm drink and I think even a game of scrabble or something. It was a perfect moment in my life. In that moment, I knew I’d never forget it.
Shortly after the bookshop day, we, like most other expats, escaped the winter for warmer shores. It was the Chinese New Year holiday and school was out so we hopped on a plane to Boracay, a small island in the Philippines with a heavenly long white beach. It was the perfect age to travel with a baby. He slept most of the way, fed, slept, fed, slept. It was a 24 hour journey door to door and some of it was a little hair raising, but my just three month old was the perfect travelling companion. We had a small pop up baby tent for the trip and this little gem proved to be the greatest holiday accessory for a couple with such a young baby. Restaurants lined the beach and tables and chairs sat along the sand. At night we were able to pick our spot and put out little guy to sleep in the tent, set on the soft sand. We were free to sit there all night if we wanted to. This kind of freedom, for a couple on holiday with a young baby, was priceless. There was no being confined to our hotel room because of the baby. No stress over should we or shouldn’t we leave him with hotel baby-sitters. No better get home, the baby will be waking soon. Another perfect moment in time that I will be thankful for, always. A footnote, he chose the first night of this holiday to sleep through the night for the first time without waking for a feed. At 6am I sat bolt upright in panic, knowing I hadn’t had to get up in the night, thinking something must be wrong. Wonderful, thoughtful child.
Our boy in his Made in China shirt.
I haven’t sat and absorbed moments in recent years in the way I did back then. There have been a few moments about which I hope to one day develop selective amnesia. But just recently I’ve taken some moments, some lovely long moments, to stroke a soft cheek, memorise the sweet curve of a little mouth, and love the perfect innocence of a wonderful face. I will never wish it back, those long, difficult days of yuk. And no, it hasn’t flown by. But I can feel just enough space now, to begin to burn some perfect moments into my collection. Alongside the bookshop and the beach.