you are sleeping and for a minute, mouth open, curled small in your bed, you look again like the curly-headed toddler whom i still expect to see, some mornings before my brain entirely catches up to the present.

you are big, long now, leaner, solid. your Buddha belly is only a memory. you have a front tooth coming in. you will have been here six years tomorrow.

i believe it in the waking hours.

yesterday morning, i drove you to school and before Posey and i were even out of the car, you’d grabbed your dinosaur backpack and were running away across the spring frost, all badass in your new jean jacket, and i grinned before i called you back for a hug. you came. later, when you whinged “MumMY” for the seventeenth time in a minute and i barked like a fishwife, your resilience, your unto-your-self-ness, was a glorious thing to observe. i marvel at you, child, i do.

yet in the half-light of dawn, still sleeping, you are a different sort of marvel. i reach out my hand and my fingers in your hair tell me, yes, here. safe, mine.

you, Oscar.

six years later, i am still a doubting Thomas of a mother.

you were my unexpected child.

oh, you were planned, calculated, hoped for against thin and fragile hope. but never had i imagined you, until you came. and never did i bargain for all you’d be.

your brother was my firstborn, the child i’d invented and daydreamed of since i was the size you are now. i am a firstborn, my mother’s only. my father is a firstborn. my friends, all my growing up, were firstborns.

your sister is my daughter, my longed-for girl.

but the second-born son? was no one i’d been expecting, ever. until you came.

i forget now, how i was in our first days together, when this blog was new and i was still brittle from your brother’s death and the fear and the long months four hours from home in the hospital where he was born and died before you. it had not even been a year.

i was afraid you would not make it. i was afraid i was too broken. i was afraid i would want too much from you.

i didn’t know the term “rainbow baby” then.

but that’s what you are. the beauty after the storm, the covenant. the rainbow does not negate the destruction that came before, but it brings wonder to the process of rebuilding.

you are the rainbow that has not faded.

and still, six years in, i marvel and reach out to touch your hair, full of wonder, full of grace.

(Oscar, almost six: thank you, sweet | salty Kate)

you learned to read this year, to ride a two-wheeler. sometimes you to remember to say “please.” you try. mostly.

you can multiply, years ahead of your time, and your father and i half-hold back on scaffolding these worlds, knowing full well smart only goes so far in life.

you love music: you want to be Mick Jagger when you grow up. you play the spoons. you have a curious affinity for Scottish martial tunes that i confess to entirely indulging in spite of myself.

you are moving past your love of dinosaurs into a Star Wars and Star Trek and Space Oddity sort of phase, where each morning when we leave the house in the car you count backwards from ten when the ignition starts.

you are learning to draw. your rendition of David Suzuki at the art gallery the other day kinda blew my mind.

you’re still working on jumping with two feet.

tonight, before bed, i will dig out your hardcover Winnie the Pooh book and read you the poem below…or perhaps you will read it to me. and i will likely smile a little over-bright and some small part of me will wish it could be true, because i would keep you, Oscar, the way you are right now except that would only be for me and you are far too much of a marvel unto yourself to want to hold you back from rocketing out into the world.

and so i will just tousle your hair to remind my fingers again that this rainbow remains, and i will kiss you goodnight, and say happy birthday, my sweet boy.

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever.

– A.A. Milne (1927)