Or did it? Sometimes I’m shocked that I don’t spend half of my life telling my children my stories. Often I’m too tired or my soul is too exhausted or my stories are too inappropriate. My kids, though, watch fireflies in our yard and only see faeries. So much is gone – the heft of chubby thighs around my tired hips. Squeezable cheeks, fluttering eyes, and newborn soft sighs.
Once I became heartbroken and weary at the constant regenerations of children. What once made up my entire days and weeks and years – those babies and toddlers and preschoolers – has nearly gone. Poof. Somehow life makes it so that it isn’t heartbreaking that your kids grow and change, sometimes unrecognizably, and that the baby or toddler or preschooler you held in your arms doesn’t even exist anymore. Pigtails make their way to braids. First haircuts get rid of baby curls. Words are formed on their tongues, and they get sharper every year. Teeth come and go. Personalities and phases and stages and ages and entire WORLDS slip through your hands. Somehow, that’s ok. Somehow, that’s ok because you get something else to hold in its place.
Once I bore the weight and sensations of childbirth for far longer than I expected. I felt like I had JUST had a baby for years. I didn’t feel it physically – I healed fast – but I felt emotionally, newly postpartum. He was my baby, my little one, my precious son, my last. And his entrance into this world was bumpy and feverish – for me – and confusing, dreamy, and protected for him. Six days and nights in the NICU for a suspected, unexpected, and never detected virus. Healthy since.
Then he was home and he was all ours. He was mine. Things were strained then – in some ways with Scarlet because she threw a shoe at his newborn head and I realized then that the mama bear ferocity can even turn on its own child – when not only only the victim, but the suspect is the mama bear’s own. Things were strained with Cassidy too. Sometimes the only comfort I sought and received, was in Des’ eyes, as it was for Cassidy with Scarlet. Of course that changed in all four ways and there are no mother/child strains, or at least none that outweigh the other.
When Scarlet threw that shoe at his head, he only cried for seconds. He did cry, but resolved it fast. His first year was full of such ups and downs. Things slightly hard or harder at times, but beautifully resolved. May it always be that way. Often on its own, and sometimes with my help.
He was unexpected. I didn’t think we’d have a second kid and I didn’t think we’d have a boy, but here we are and he’s beautiful. Diligent. Passionate. Gentle. Zany. Once I was seven-years-old too and I try to remember what it felt like. Achy, lollipop-sticky, magical, twisty, curvy, timey wimey.
I used to measure my life in proximity to having just given birth and for so long, it was so close. I’ve tried to explain in the past and I’ll probably be trying to forever, but I don’t experience time passing the way the average person does. I usually blink in confusion when people talk about how it’s been a bad fall or a winter-like spring or a rainy spell. All I can sense is how it feels, and what seems like eons upon eons of it in a row, or just seconds. I don’t know what it’s like to measure time the way people talk about it. I have these birthdays as reminders of getting further from the new mother I used to be, and closer to whatever is waiting this way for me.
Sometimes it’s like a dark tunnel, lit by the beacons of my three family members, and their touchable love for me. I see shadows and visions reflected on those tunnel walls. I can just imagine what it’s like to touch a memory or envision a future. It’s there and it’s waiting and this boy helps snap me back to the present – which quite frankly – is the only place I should be resting. With him, with them, because gosh darn it, there’s still time. It always hurts to try to touch a memory or envision a future, because I should be getting lost in these eyes instead – for minutes and days and weeks and years. Even though I experience them differently – like blinks and eons and time all happening it once – I can still feel the burning love. It lights my way.
I stop and I feel and I take those breaks to feel it in palatable leaps and gulps. He is changing, he is mine, he was never really mine, and I am changing too. He’s not a toddler now and I don’t have to hold him as tightly anymore. Even though I know he can keep up, look both ways, stop, go, and slow down, I always come to a stop or look back. Not to make sure he’s catching up, because I know he always will, but to make sure he knows that I’ll always look back, wait, take a deep breath, and make sure we’re in this thing together. I suppose I always will. I’ll need this.
Happy happy seven-years-old to this darling boy. You pave the way for so much to come – and I can’t wait to plan it and build it and sail into it together – into the big adventures waiting.