If I've heard it once I've heard it twenty times already. You don't even have to have a baby on your lap for people, usually older women, whose children might have flown the nest already, or are at the 'not-so-cuddly' stage, to offer up this advice. And really, as much as I appreciate advice (ok, so maybe I don't very much) what does it really mean?
I understand the implicit meaning to someone whose kids are there, with them, to someone who might be too trapped into the nitty-gritty of parenting to appreciate the unique developmental stage their kids are at during that precise moment. I understand that and in a way, I believe that too: enjoy your children as they are right now (even if the way they are right now involves trantrums and snot, hmmm). Mindful parenting, immersed in the moment, is something that I too, aspire to.
But telling a woman, like me, whose (prospective - that word again) children are half a world away, on a different continent, well, that to me sounds as a simple, and maybe rather cruel observation. She might as well have said "Look how they're growing without you!" or "He's a little boy already and you will never get to live the baby-stage with him".
We have a friend who is currently in Addis Ababa, visiting his prospective children as him and his wife are waiting for their paperwork to be finalised. He very kindly visited the orphanage where our kids are at, and took several pictures and a few videos for us to see them.
I knew he was going to visit yesterday - he had told me and D and I had sent him a little video of us, taken on Saturday in our garden, our three dogs around us, saying hi to our little girl. I had also sent him some pictures we had taken with her while we were there in October. October... that was five months ago... The mere thought makes my heart sink.
The whole day I scanned my phone obsessively, even during class (which I don't normally do) waiting for an email, a picture. I was on the way home from my early evening lesson when my phone started pinging. I ran up to the house and then sat next to D while we opened the attachment to our children's pictures.
We watched them, several times and we laughed. And we cried. And we laughed some more. We scanned the pictures, we scrutinised every second of the videos, for little signs of them - for something more than just a picture. For the funny way she moves her mouth, the way she tidies her bear on her lap, her assertive manner. For his first proper little laugh (in front of our eyes, at least), his, now chubby, arms poking out of his shirt. For his lovely hair, that has grown curly and plentiful. And for the way he looks at her. We watched them again and again, feasting our eyes in the sight of the two little ones that will hopefully be in our arms soon.
Telling me that they grow up so fast was like a punch in the stomach. Like I don't know. Like I don't realise that the three month old infant I left behind last November will never be the same. That this bubbling, smiling 8 month old will not even be the same tomorrow. That by the time we manage to go and get them, by the time our court date has come they will have changed again, into different little children.
A bitter sweet evening, with over 8 attachments of my children. In all honesty, not the sort of "attachment" I was hoping for at this stage, but precious all the same.