Thu 9 Jul 2009
soon there will be no baby in this house.
she is blooming, this Posey, turning into a short person whose only speed is full ON and who goes from chewing on a shoe to sheer tragic starvation and an uncanny impersonation of a woman in labour in four seconds flat, all smiles and contentment and mmm, shoe to uh uh uh uh aaaaaagggghhhh!!!! with a gusto that announces her as a presence.
she is the age when the answer to all her sorrows is a baby cracker or something even the teensiest bit stable so she can stand and bounce. just those small things, and joy abounds. a familiar face nearby, and her blue eyes will crinkle and say, oh, there you are and in that moment you will preen and know your life has purpose.
mostly my purpose seems to be to keep her from choking herself to death on every single last scrap of anything anybody ever dropped on any surface within two-and-a-half feet of the floor. that and to taunt her mercilessly with the glorious blue light that encircles the laptop’s power cord plugin, currently in her estimation the most interesting thing in the house bar none. toys schmoys. rescuring my poor beleagured laptop from her enthusiastic attentions has made my days an elaborate game of keepaway.
i get nothing done when she’s awake, except when i strap her in the mei tai and we clean the kitchen or venture out into the frigid garden to weed. (honest to god, July, you’re just not pulling your weight around here. we had frost. frost. i had to put her coat on yesterday to take her for a walk. at noon. in the “sunshine”.)
by nothing, of course, i really mean no writing. she is a hands-on girl. and my hands grow weary from conveying the nos, the danger, the constant circuit of let me remove this from your determined wee grasp and let me change that bum before you launch yourself across the room like a pudgy torpedo. my hands grow itchy to type the internal monologue that i too often forget to share with her.
having let one baby go with these hands and watched the next sprout into a full-blown manchild seemingly overnight, i should be holding this one while i can. except, of course, she does not want to be held, not too long. she wants to scoot, to cruise, to discover, to literally taste the world.
babies don’t keep. i squander the starry eyes that follow me as i try to sneak a minute on the computer before she marauds it yet again, i waste these last days of her infancy home here with me folding the fucking laundry. again.
we push and pull against each other, Josephine and i, our dance a tender one in which each tries to escape being subsumed by the other. i have known from the moment she was placed in my arms that she was my last baby, my longed-for girl. i have known, too, when i’ve been honest, that the privilege of the year at home with her would be a strange journey for me, a hard slog of patience and attention to minutiae and a selflessness that does not come easy. the days are long but the years fast, goes the proverb, and it sums up babyhood for me. for all my abiding love for her, i struggle to be a baby mother. for every time i play pat-a-cake and stack the little rings on the stick, there is another when i am trying to clean things she’s yet too young to help me with, or read things that don’t have cardboard pages. yet somewhere inside, i am trying to burn her on my memory so that someday i can look back, wistful and unfettered by the guilt of reality, and believe that these storied days of wine and roses had no thorns, no outbursts of “mother of GAWD is it too early to drink?”
and still as it slips through my fingers i grieve.
because she turns her own hands up to me when she wakes, even deep from sleep. i creep in to where she breathes and curls into herself in her sleep sack, fat hand tight ’round her bunny, and i watch her and realize she will never remember these days and each time i am struck by the singularity of it all, these moments of beauty that only i see, that only i in all the world get…and the universality of the motif, the recognition that this is what it is to be a mother. in the dark of her room, i bear witness to her, to now, to this, the stuff of our days that is only mine to register.
i brush her wispy head and murmur tenderness and her arms open to me and a little smile crosses her bleary face. i reach for her and heft her from the crib and she pushes her head into my neck, soft hairs tickling, and we rock, for one moment in the same rhythm, both pulling close, made whole by the other. she smells of milk, slightly sour and sweet and plump, and i grow sticky and soft with love and gratitude.
someday if memories fade and warp, this is one i hope i hold to, get lost in, get to live again just one more time.
because soon they will be gone until those someday sojourns of old age, these moments when the laundry and the lure of the world and the web fall away, when i could spend an eternity standing and rocking my last baby, cheek to cheek.
soon. but not quite yet.