When every experience is a first, life is exciting and wonderful. Life as a parent is exactly that. Every milestone reached, every new discovery, every proud achievement makes all the sleepless nights and life sacrifices worth it.
There are the firsts that you document, writing down information in a book that will sit on a shelf for years to come, only to be looked at when your child has a child to compare notes.
There are the firsts that you would rather forget, the first nappy explosion in a public place or the first time you instinctively catch a projectile vomit in your bare hands to protect the flooring.
There are the firsts that only you and your other mum friends can relate to, the first irrational sleep deprived meltdown, ranting about an unpacked dishwasher or an unmade bed.
Then there are those magical firsts. The ones that warm your heart. The ones that are really special that you will treasure forever.
Last week we had one of those moments, one of my favourite firsts to date. We packed our child up along with way too much luggage and had our first family holiday. Just the three of us. A holiday that I had booked when I was craving sun and hating the winter, when I was sick of my husband being at work most nights and at uni most days, when all I needed was time as a family, no interuptions, it was a holiday that I had booked out of purely selfish notions.
The logistics of going on holiday with a small child did not hit me until about two days before we left. We had previously holidayed with my family when Leo was only six weeks old, a six week old on a nine hour car trip is easy, sleep, feed, drive, repeat. A nine hour drive with a ten month old however, not so easy. Sleeps are shorter and the idea of sitting still in one place for a prolonged period of time is not well accepted.
With the car packed baby and all we hit the road early and with the help of an extremely appropriately themed teddy bear cafe, the trip, bar the slightly sore ears as we drove over the mountains, was relatively painless.
Once again our child had amazed us, we had reached our destination and that, in itself, was an achievement.
We had been to the beach with Leo when he was tiny, dipped him in the water to reveal a high pitched squeal of surprise. When he was six weeks old he laid in the tent like a doll, one of us sitting next to him, watching the waves crash from a distance. Now, as we carried Leo down the steps to our familiar beach the excitement was palpable, our little boy wriggled with curiousity as he heard the crashing of the waves on the sand. His face was filled with joy when he saw the water and our ‘beach babe’ was born.
The beach, this beach in particular, is my happy place. The place I think of when I am having a bad day, or where I imagine I am when I am pushing myself to work hard during exercise. My happy place was made happier by Leo.
The way he laughed as the waves rolled in and grasped at the sand, examining the small grains as they rolled through his fingers, the salty air brushing his skin. When we decided to go home for the day, Leo fought us, itching to have more time to explore the sand. Leo didn’t know it but we were planning on taking him swimming the next day.
The next day was the hottest of our trip, a beautiful day, perfect for swimming. Leo was yet to wear his new bathers, a purchase I had made a few weeks before, so we dressed him up to look the part and took him down to the kiddies beach.
Another special first. Despite the water being cooler than any bath he had ever taken, Leo loved it. The mysterious water splashing against his legs, the small shells hidden like curious jewels in the sand, Leo played and examined, taking it all in.
We are so lucky to witness the discovery of new things. Some times we forget how lucky we are and how momentous these occasions are, our children grow up so quickly it seems like every day there is a new first. Whether it’s good or bad, adorable or disgusting, I appreciate and cherish every first as I know I won’t get these special moments with Leo forever.
I will always cherish our first family holiday, smile when I think about Leo in the water and laugh with my husband when we reminisce of lunch with the teddy bears and Leo laughing at the waves. We are lucky to be heading back to my happy place in 13 weeks. In 13 weeks we get to witness Leo discover the beach all over again, as a no doubt, fully fledged toddler. We have a lifetime of firsts ahead of us and I am excited.