Holy crap how did you get so big? I mean let’s face it; you were pretty large coming out of the womb there, mister almost 10 pounds. But it’s like I blinked, took a catnap, and BAM! There you are on your hands and knees about to crawl. You don’t know how to reach for me yet, so when I’m supposed to pick you up you just arch your back and wriggle around.
They say boys are different, that you love them differently and bond with them differently. I’m not sure about that so far. I can tell you that it’s really freaking weird to say “my son”. Yesterday I looked into your eyes, and for a split second I saw you, towering over me, leaning down to kiss my cheek. That won’t be new to me, since your oldest sister towers over me now, at 13. But still. Something about the image of my SON leaning down to kiss me brings back memories of Folger’s commercials and Holiday movies. One day, I’ll be sitting around my beautiful dining room table with my grown children and I’ll look at you and I’ll remember your sweet baby smile, your tiny hands grabbing my nose, and your infectious belly laugh.
Our days are pretty idle lately. I’ve been having some health problems, and by far the worst part, worse than pain or depression or the general pain in the ass of not being able to close my hands, is that on bad days I can’t pick you up and play with you. On days like that, we spend a lot of time face to face at the changing table, because it’s at my waist level and I can carry you there with my forearms, lay you down and lean into your field of vision. We play, we laugh, I sing to you, and you show off your new talent, which is pulling your toes up to your face. I should really get photos of that…
If I have to choose one thing that surprises me, saves me, and makes me glad I had you, it would be your relationship with your oldest sister. When ToddlerA was born, TeenHer was 10, and not so smitten with the baby in actual practice. In theory, babies seemed very fun to her. But when we brought home a screaming, puking, crapting little energy suck that never slept, TeenHer kept busy outside the house. I don’t blame her, of course; our lives were just not that fun when ToddlerA was a newborn. Hell, I had two different jobs during her first 2 years, and as you get to know me you’ll find that I’ll do just about anything to avoid working a straight job.
But you! From the moment we started contemplating you, TeenHer was in my corner. Last summer we took a doula training class together, four weekends of intense study about birth, babies, and natural healing. I really watched TeenHer blossom during those weekends into a vibrant, intelligent young woman, someone I would be proud to have at my side during a birth. And so when we found out last August that you were coming, TeenHer was a part of the celebration, and she was at my side through the whole pregnancy, taking over duties when I got sick, and wielding the camera to record my belly progress, and keeping ToddlerA entertained when I became confined to bed.
When you were born, TeenHer was like a third parent around here. Watching your face light up when she pulls you into her arms, hearing your belly laugh when she sings “the ants go marching” to you-it just makes me so glad to be a mother. To be her mother, and yours. Last weekend TeenHer went with me on a long trip to Columbus for my brother’s wedding, and we left everyone else home. By the second night, we were glued to the laptop screen watching videos of you and ToddlerA. By the third night, we were asking your dad to hold the phone to your ear while we tried to make you laugh. Life just isn’t normal when you’re not in it, for any of us.
I made all kinds of jokes about sleeping through the night, being all unencumbered and independent in Ohio and I have to say it was nice. But baby boy, tonight I fed you, and when it was time to lay you down again I couldn’t let you go. I cradled your delicious head in my hand and hummed songs while you nuzzled my neck. We stayed like that for a long time, and at that moment I wished I could undo all the Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child bullcrap we’ve instilled in your life because all I want in the world right now is to cuddle up beside you and fall asleep.
Soon you’ll be crawling and then you’ll be walking and one day I will stand in our yard and watch you leap toward the basketball hoop. From experience, I know that soon I will close my eyes and when I open them you’ll be standing in my living room with a lover. I don’t know how to slow down these moments, Baby J. I wish I could- you have no idea. I wish I could tell you and your sisters to slow down already, to stop being in such a hurry, to just sit quietly with me for a minute or a year or a lifetime.
I should know by now that wishing is a waste of the very little time that we have. For that reason and a few others, there may not be as many ‘monthly’ letters to you, my son, my perfect love. I resolve to sit still, to hold you while I can; to engrave your face into my memory for safekeeping. I promise to watch you grow and to not begrudge you forward progress. I promise to try my very hardest to be there, to be completely there, to be totally with you. I love you so much, little dude.