he is getting so big.  and i see him so little when the days are washed and measured; so little time, really, for catching his eye and smiling, for playing, for holding him close while he still fits in my lap.

Saturday and this hits me, you see, right before we leave him for days to fly across an ocean, because the brain is a guilty, sentimental kind of muscle.  Saturday when he and i are mostly alone from 5:45 am on because Dave is working, and though that kind of early always finds me incompetent and staggering through the first few hours, it is still one of those sun-pours-in-like-butterscotch mornings that have been all too rare lately, gray days with flurries being the norm of the season this year.  the sun brings me back, suddenly, to last year’s cold, crisp winter when i was at home with a boy just learning to play, and just as suddenly the open rhythm of those cold, long, repetitive days seems utopian.  lately our days home alone, just O and i, have been storm days or sick days or just altogether draining days, me trying to catch up on the multitude of things to be done while a toddler wreaks havoc around me.  but Saturday, with the shafts of light beaming in on the floor, Oscar and i race toy horses round his train track, and line up Thomas the Tank Engine (and friends) all through his farmhouse in every possible permutation, and i can see through time to a Saturday someday when this playroom will be a dining room again, and the baby who will be 21 months tomorrow will be 21 for real and gone and grown.  and the two of us on the floor, huddled in pajamas on brightly-coloured playmats, laughing, are suddenly a snapshot to me, ghostly and precious and impossible to recapture.

we go for a walk a little later in the morning, O bundled within an inch of his life in the stroller, and we browse and window shop but mostly stay outdoors because it is a Great Affront to my opinionated young sir if i should try to remove the plastic windcover from his stroller or his hat or mittens from his person inside a store, despite the fact that i suspect he will melt if i do not.  and thus we bounce along the icy, crusty, slush-bound sidewalks, more flashbacks from the winter before and our daily walks to break the monotony of being housebound, and i had forgotten what a great workout pushing a stroller can be this time of year and i am happy and O is happy but the sun is in our eyes all the way back and between closing his eyes against the glare and all that bouncing, bouncing, by the time we arrive home he is fast asleep.

one of the visions i had of motherhood that never really came to pass was the one where i would sit, adoringly, with my sleeping offspring in my arms…or slip in by his bedside to watch him in the night.  O started life early and colicky, and sleep was a battle for a long time and one that no amount of rocking ever won, though i tried, and Dave tried.  he goes down easily, now, most nights, lies peaceably with his baby and his stuffed rabbit and his sippy cup of water after multiple stories, and we say goodnight and he says “bye bye!” and we seldom see him before, erm, 5:45 am…but slipping into his room is an urge i gave up on awhile ago, when my attempts resulted in dire regret.  so it’s rare that i get to watch him while he sleeps, this boy almost out of babyhood.

i drag the stroller up into the porch and remove the windcover and his boots and still he stays knocked flat out, snoring a little, lashes fluttering on his cheeks.  and i sit for a minute, smiling at him quietly.  i am joined by the cat, the two of us keeping vigil…one for novelty and love and one because the stroller is her preferred porch perch and i believe she was trying to stare him into wakefulness.

as i watch him, time slips for me again to the permutations of possible futures, and i can see in the shape of those still-baby-fat cheeks the stubble that will come, and the harsher planes of bone, and i am struck with the realization that someday someone else, perhaps, will watch him sleep like this, drifting, lashes fluttering, on a pillow probably far away from here.  and i remember mornings of my own past, waking next to those chosen or ill-chosen few who suddenly, in sleep, seemed impossibly beautiful to me and how i was filled with tenderness and knew that i was in trouble, or love, if the two are ever different.

the same tenderness filled me Saturday morning, watching my boy asleep in his stroller, understanding that i am in love in a way that swallows me whole and that this one i cannot even wish to have grow old with me, because such is not the way of things.

he will grow, and he will – i hope – find his own way, his own loves, his own sun-filled mornings with lovers or with children.  but this time i caught the snapshot – two, actually – for later, for the time when these moments are only memory.

Oscar sleeping