New life and the year ends

A few days down with my daughter and son in law and the new baby.  Sometimes time folds in on itself.  It feels simultaneously a long time since I was in a house with a very new baby and no time at all since that baby was mine.  This must be why mothers and mothers in law are famed for interfering and telling new parents how to do it.  It feels so fresh and recent.  You pick the baby up and he settles into your shoulder just like his mother did but this time you feel calm and confident, not desperate and all at sea as I did the first time round.

But these new parents really don't need any telling what to do.  The house has become sleepy and milky and running to baby time, his feeds setting the pace and the shape of the day.  They look very at home shushing and settling him and changing his nappy, very unfazed when he is temporarily cranky, carefully noting down when he feeds and sleeps but in a matter of fact way, without panic or obsesssiveness.  It is wonderful to see them, already a little family, and I am struck most by the way in which they are truly sharing these early weeks, knowing how very lucky they are to be able to do that when so many fathers have to rush back to work and reengage with the working world through a sleep deprived fug.

I cooked and cleaned a little, watched the baby while my daughter slept, carrying him around his house, singing Welsh carols to him, and watched my daughter's face as she held and fed him, utterly besotted and in love. 

One day my parents drove up from Devon to deliver Christmas presents and meet their great grandchild.  My mother and I both had our children young, so my mother, sitting with her great grandchild on her knee, is only seventy six and looks younger.  I am suddenly aware of the spider's web of relationships in families.  She is watching the baby's face and I glance up and see that my father is watching not the baby but her, the look of deep affection on his face reminding me that our parents have their own emotional lives too. 

They go and the next day my younger daughter comes, bearing a sausage casserole and an apple cake.  She is my step daughter and they are step sisters, these two, although we have been a family so long the step part feels a bit redundant and  I don't think they use the term in talking about each other.  Again there is a strong sense of family as the baby sleeps in his aunt's arms and later as they all make each other fall about laughing in the kitchen over elder daughter's rendition of New York, New York to the unsurprised baby with his wide all seeing eyes.  I am very lucky.

And now home to engage with the reality of Christmas.  Son and daughter in law are coming for a few days beforehand as they will not be here on Christmas Day, and the rest of the family are convening over next week with the baby having his first introduction to Wales (there was much talk of "Wales clothes" when I was with them.  While the cottage where they will be staying is very cosy, the house works as houses used to do with cosy sitting rooms and cool bedrooms).  Older grandson has gone off with his mother to visit his other family across the Atlantic.  He is missed but it seems mean to mind too much when we have his company for so much of the year and his other family are longing to see him.  His father I hope will be here for Christmas, distracting himself with food and presents and company and looking forward to having him home again.

So I have lists to make and cards to send and presents to wrap.  I need to inspect the holly to see if we have much with berries and feed the Christmas cake again and muse about food.  It is good to be home again with Ian and to have a couple of evenings together before the hordes descend.  My mother used to say to me cheerfully when we all had our Christmas with them "I love it when you come and I love it again when you go".  I know exactly what she means.  My parents will be with my sister's family so I know they will have a good time.  And as for me, I am looking forward so much to everyone being here.  I too will love it when they come, and love it all over again when they go!


  1. How lovely. It's making me broody again. Which in turn is making my husband nervous again...

  2. This is a lovely post, and really took me back to those special first few weeks. Dont think i was as calm as your daughter sounds though! It is wonderful when new parents manage to really switch off from the outside world and just absorb themselves like this. NO! I'm not getting broody!

  3. The rhythym of life is apparent in these words, it is lovely. I am too old to be broody, but I remember. I will probably enjoy a grandchild, whenever one of my children presents me with one!
    Merry Christmas!

  4. Lovely that you could spend time with him.
    I am going to have my two stay for the Christmas period. They are coming on Sunday. The eldest is 13! I cannot believe how the time has gone so quickly since he was tiny like yours.

    Love the view from your gate. Beautiful photo that!

    Nuts in May

  5. I, too, am enjoying the last day of calm before the storm. Children and grandchildren arrive tomorrow from the east and I am nearly ready.
    You wrote so beautifully about your new grandchild and that lovely feeling of looking across the generations. I never knew my grandparents, so I loved watching my parents with my children, and now revel in being a grandmother myself.

  6. Elizabeth, I think you should put a Weepy Warning at the top of these very touching posts of yours!

    So lovely to have a grandchild (wistful sigh....) and to see your daughter immersed in being a mother too.

    Your Christmas family plans sound wonderful; I hope all goes really well.

  7. I can recognise so much of this. It will be little Theo's first Christmas for he is ten months now and already as he begins to stand the baby stage is almost forgotten. But how beautifully you express these eternal and timeless truths - the time folding in on itself and the expression of your father's benign love. You do paint lovely pictures as you muse over that 'are we coming, are we going' gate. Almost a metaphor for time itself.

  8. Mt mother used to say the same thing to me about visitors too! How lovely to be party to the continuation of the family in that way you truely are blessed.

  9. Lovely post Elizabeth - you have really captured the joy of being part of a family - it is a wonderful feeling isn't it. Best wishes to that new baby on his/her first Christmas.
    Re people coming to stay over Christmas, my mother always used to say that visitors were a bit like fish - alright for a couple of days but then they begin to go off. I love visitors, especially at Christmas, but I also like the peace and quiet - and the time to reflect on their visit - when they are gone. Have a lovely Christmas and wrap that baby up well in Welsh clothes!

  10. I so enjoyed reading your blog. Have a wonderful Christmas

  11. What a wonderful story of love and pride. Family is our greatest gift in the world, well just behind faith. So happy for you. blessings

  12. it sounds so much like a real christmas, the sort which is dominated by love and togetherness and caring and laughter and joy; I am very envious.
    The other sort, the noisy, greedy, commercial sort, is the christmas I dislike intensely.

    May we all be able to enjoy the christmas we wish for.

  13. Sounds delightful. And I love the photo of the view from the gate.

  14. What a perfect time to have a new baby in the family. Enjoy your Christmas together.

  15. What a lovely post so full of love of family.
    I normally dislike Christmas for many reasons but this year my fourth grandchild is due (on 21st). I can't believe that there will be a new baby amongst us once more. A blessed Christmas indeed.

  16. I really like your posts. You write with warmth but not sentimentality about family. Like it when they come, like it when they go ... I know EXACTLY what your mother meant. It's how it should be, I guess.

  17. I love how you describe your warm, 'homey' life. All is calm and peaceful. We have a blizzard going on in our area, indeed much of the American Midwest. Lovely view from your garden gate. Merry Christmas.

  18. That was lovely - made me a bit sad that I don't think I'll ever have grandchildren, but I so enjoyed reading about your pleasure in your new grandchild that it makes up for it!


Post a comment

Comments are the best thing and the conversations they produce are the whole purpose of blogging for me. Do tell me what you think!

Popular posts from this blog

Making lined curtains

Running and Spanish and oodles of family time

Resurrecting the garden blog