As usual, I have neglected writing because the time never feels right. I don’t have the words to say what I want to say, to record these moments accurately, so why bother? But some record is better than none at all. With so much left unsaid, I don’t know how to write except to start.
Here I am, typing again, trying to capture some shadow of my children’s beauty. I want to bottle them up and keep them this way forever, even as I daily urge them forward to new and grander heights. Their achievements are spectacular, but what really takes my breath away is their joy.
If I could, I would preserve for eternity the deep bloom of gratitude I feel when Daniel smiles his wide-mouthed baby smile. His hands bat at my face and clutch fistfuls of anything they can find- folds of shirt, strands of hair, the skin of my neck and arms. He bleats a greeting and tries to climb me, toes digging in for a foothold. He’s intense and determined and stubborn and strong, so like his daddy. He drags his body across the room as if his life depended upon it, pushing with his forearms and toes. When the nurse gave him his rotavirus oral vaccine today, he grabbed her fingers with two strong hands and propelled the tube of liquid into his mouth furiously, startling her and making me giggle. That’s how every experience of feeding him solid foods has gone- more, more, more, faster, faster, until we give up because he’s too impatient to swallow. Some of my favorite moments of the day are when he’s nursing before sleep and he finally stops arching his back and bracing his feet against the arm of the chair. The tension goes out of his body and he relaxes into me. For a moment, it’s like I can stop time and keep him a little baby- as long as he still rests on me, I can pretend he’s brand new.
Obviously, I’m over the moon smitten with him. I can’t imagine a more adorable, darling baby. I’m so in love that I find myself grieving for time I lost when Mary was this age. The first year of her life was joyous at times but also a jumble of anxiety, loneliness, and guilt over going to class and leaving her in daycare. I longed for breaks from her even though it felt like I was never with her. The pumping, the endless pumping! I don’t miss that one bit. I was playing with Daniel on the floor recently and it occurred to me I was never comfortable playing with Mary at this age. I was too worried about the “right” way to play or how to best foster her brain development. I knew I needed to relax, but I didn’t know how. Mary taught me how to mother a new baby so that with Daniel, I could savor the experience. My sweet little guinea pig.
My heart breaks at how these moments fly away, never to return. Surely Mary patted my cheek in just this way? But I can’t feel her hand in my memory. What sounds was Mary making at six months? I’m not sure. Why do the details fade away so quickly? Maybe in Heaven I will meet Mary as a baby again and take back these lost memories. Daniel too. Already his newbornhood is slipping from my mind. It’s hard for me to picture him as a helpless infant, unable to roll over or lift his head, much less propel himself around the room.
I wrote the preceding paragraphs yesterday. Reading back over them makes me wince a little- wow, the hormones were strong yesterday, huh? But I’m hitting publish anyway because it’s authentic to my postpartum mood most of the time: smitten, proud, amazed, a bit guilt-ridden, and frantic that I can’t hold on to this time and keep it forever. This post is becoming a novella so I’ll stop now and write about Mary next.