I was tiding up my flat. It was the usual cleaning to welcome the change of season. Warm clothes would be washed and placed on the top shelves instead of the summer clothes, which would be made more readily accessible. After such feats, I usually develop the fever of tiding up. Lately, I have read various theories about minimalism as a lifestyle. OK, I’m not saying I would be able to accept such an approach: it would require too many sacrifices. But, riding on the wave of enthusiasm, I did manage to fill several plastic bags with trinkets that had probably cost me an arm and a leg, although I wasn’t entirely sure I understood why I’d bought them in the first place.
On such occasions, my victims are usually found among toys, the broken or cracked stuff or objects without an easily identifiable purpose (those tiny pieces of something that might be a Lego block or a part of a Kinder Surprise toy). Then I discretely fill another bag with all the stuff that my daughter has outgrown to give them away. It has to be done discretely because if she opens the bag, she’ll surely take everything out and say those are her favorite toys and as such should not be given to anyone. On the other hand, strangely enough, giving away outgrown clothes has never been a problem. I don’t think she actually pays too much attention to what she wears, as long as it’s a dress and it spins.
Then I opened the drawers filled with notebooks, pencils and knick-knacks. I knew what was inside as I’d briefly gone through their contents a few days before…
…and found a notebook with green covers with butterflies. I opened it and …
I was immediately transported five years back in time.
In my late pregnancy, I was so well organized. I’d prepared lists, recommendations, comments from various websites… I’d collected them all, not in duplicate, but in triplicate. Just in case. Maybe it’s just me or maybe all single mothers are the same. We are always doubly careful because we can’t rely on anyone else.
I remember when I bought the notebook. It was so convenient, small, with a spiral, so that the pages could turn nicely without being torn.
It was a thing that could last. I wrote down all kinds of things:
how much milk the baby had drunk,
how many times a day,
her first cramps,
her first smile,
her first carrot and boiled potatoes, her first banana and pear.
Dated notes about the first year of her life, a testimony about my efforts, commitment and love.
For instance, they remind me of the fact that my daughter started to walk when she was exactly one year and 26 days old.
That she came down with her first fever when she was 14 months.
That she weighed 22 pounds and was 2,6 feet tall.
When she was 15 months old, that she was trying to talk and pushed the food greedily in her mouth.
I kept the notebook, like I kept her ID bracelet and the clothes she was wearing when we returned home from the nursery. Her birthday dresses and the first shoes are my most valuable treasures.
Indeed, what is the life of a mother but the patient collection of memories as she watches her child slowly take steps towards the adulthood?