a year. a whole year.

Oscar, baby boy, you are one year old.

it feels dreamily like yesterday or maybe last week that i went into labour, mama Cheshire Cat sitting smugly through the evening’s book club, timing my contractions, breathing most cleansingly. all my earth mother zen flew out the window in the car on the way to the hospital, when i suddenly lost the capacity to sit without being ripped in two with excruciating immediacy. i was six centimetres dilated when we arrived. the rest – two hours, you were in a hurry, son – belongs to that other country that is labour, wherein i crawled outside myself, almost, beyond any capacity to ground or gather myself and i remember mostly your father’s eyes and your grandmother, my mother, trying to pray inconspicuously behind his shoulder.

then you.

you, Oscar, warm and crying and cheese-coatedly new…and breathing, breathing all on your own and i think it’s taken me a full year to really let out my own breath and believe that you are here and safe but there you were, wrapped and peering, a foreign creature older than time and more innocent than kittens, all in one. yourself. my own. nothing like me, little visible trace of me even yet in your blond, solid boy-ness, nothing like your brother yet so clearly your father’s child.

you are Other to me, a mysterious surprise who grows more and more enchanting all the time. i get to open you every day. i am amazed by your unfolding into a person, by your developing sense of humour, your sturdy implacability, your gentleness, your fierce, stubborn determination. and your trust. your trust, which has been there from the first moment they laid you in my arms. you looked at me, as if to say “qua?”…and then you relaxed, acceded, gave over. as did i, to the blue-eyed blond boy i’d never imagined, and have not since that moment been able to imagine myself without.

i love watching you learn. i love holding you snug against me as we read But Not the Hippopotamus for the seventy-third time, love hearing you hiss “sssss” when you are deeply pleased with yourself, love the smack of your fat little hand on my skin as you explore the terrain of my face without compunction. i love nursing you down into fluttering sleep, this almost-gone shadow of what already feels like your long-distant babyhood, the suck of your open mouth. i love the steps you are taking away from me, and the ones that bring you hurling yourself back into my arms.

i cannot think of anything better to celebrate than your birth, Oscar. you have brought us joy, your father and i, and a strange, disrupted peace that i would choose over all the free time in the world. you are loved, and you are good.

i wish you a lifetime of happy birthdays.

What is this?