Better than all the rest
Better than anyone
Anyone I’ve ever met”
And he knows that. He knows it so well. I love to watch him look from one face to another, as people talk. I love to watch him look at my face. During his four-month-old well visit yesterday, he needed comfort before, during, and after his vaccinations. At first I was a little paralyzed because this was the time I had usually reserved for a bottle of formula. Or, had I? It’s all time blocks and strange math. He’s not a picky eater – he just likes to be fed – and doesn’t care what it is and who’s giving it. My strict internal schedule didn’t make allowances for comfort nursing, though. So I did it. I nursed him. The nurse walked in and gave him an oral vaccine while he was nursing. Then four shots in his thighs, two and two, that made him scream. He stopped to cry and went back to nursing. She left the room and for the first time in an hour, I then took off my masks. He saw my face and smiled. He pulled away again and again, to smile and giggle at me.
When I put him down to sleep every day, I swaddle with one arm out. We call his left hand his “valentine” because he loves to suck that hand. Before the hand sucking, though, he looks into my eyes. And that’s when I sing. Nonsense songs, and feeling songs, and nonsense songs I put feeling into, and feeling songs I put nonsense into. “You’re simply the best,”. Maybe a little bit of “Sugar Magnolia.” Perhaps, some “Eddie Walker” by Ben Folds Five, which was the next song on my birthing playlist I was due to make a Friday post about, but I couldn’t be inspired by it. You wouldn’t know that when it’s time to put him down for a nap or for bedtime, though. I can be inspired by anything. I’ll throw any words into melody just to watch him watch me sing. I sing and I touch four soft parts of his face. I sing some more, with nonsense and with feeling, and then I back out of the room. Sometimes I stay to hear him put himself to sleep. Slowly. Surely.
These days are the worst days, and these days are the best days. It alternates not from day to day, but from hour to hour. Different parts of the days, broken up by small rays of sunshine and bursts of bubbling laughter. There is tension, so much tension, threatening to boil over at any second. These kids, still with their baby faces, especially at night, but also with their aching and growing legs. Their fears and occasional headaches, and bouts of sleeplessness. It seems like last year they were both still young children, with small problems and easy solutions. I’m scared to lose my grip on that, and scared I can’t offer them comfort. I can, though, although inspiration bubbles up and boils over from god knows where. Instinct and experience, flashbacks and flash forwards. I give them what’s been given to me, over and over, and I know one day they’ll also be ready. It gets harder, yes, to soothe and smooth and ease their burdens. We get lost in the folds.
When I put him down to sleep, that’s when I’m not lost, but found. Everything troublesome drifts away into sweet pitchy nonsense. That’s when I’m a part of generations upon generations of parents putting their kids down to sleep. We touch the soft parts of their faces, and sing the nonsense in the feeling, and the feeling in the nonsense. And, we back slowly out of their rooms.