Believe it or not, I’m late on purpose this month. This month is special, because a year ago this month you were a dream in the making, and I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about what life was like before you became a reality. I also went back to work this month, and after spending so many wonderful weeks at home with you, I was plunged back in to a world where so many mundane, lackluster things occupy my time and energy. I go to work. I go to class. I grade papers. I get into the car every morning without you, and every afternoon I make my way home to you as fast as the speed limit will allow. Before you–before even the promise of you, when you were just a hope and a prayer–I used to reach my hand into the backseat where a carseat might someday go and imagine what it would feel like to touch the top of a tiny head while I waited for the light to turn green. I used to sit on a bench outside the building where most of my graduate classes meet and watch parents pick up their children from the campus daycare center. I envied them, longed to be one of them–infant carrier in the crook of my arm, overpacked diaper bag on my shoulder. I used to stand in the baby section of Target and hold up little sleepers and tiny pairs of pants, trying to imagine a human being small enough to wear them.
And then, a year ago today, at 3 in the afternoon, your evolution began. You grew and grew; we watched your tiny body develop, your little fingers and toes get longer, your arms and legs stretch and wave on the ultrasound screen. And then you were here, and everything I had ever imagined about having you in my life became real. Now when I reach into the backseat where your carseat rests, the tiny head I touch is yours, full of your soft, wavy hair, and when I run my fingers through your hair at every single red light you coo softly at me and try to turn your head in my direction. Now when I go to class and I pass parents picking up their kids from daycare, I envy them only because they’re going home with their kids, and I still have another three hours to go before I get to rush home to you. And now when I visit the baby section of Target I leave with a tiny outfit to add to your immense wardrobe. I’ve heard about some things in life that imagination far exceeds reality, but that is not the case with you. Having you in my life is so much better than I ever imagined it would be.
This has been a month of discovery for you; you are like an explorer approaching a new world. You’ve found your hands, and occasionally you will hold them over your head and stare at them like they might be hallucinations and you just want to make sure they’re really there. Mostly, though, they are in your mouth replacing the oceans of saliva which are now on your shirt. You’ve also mastered the art of blowing raspberries, and you do so for long periods of time. You’re also starting to discover cause-and-effect: vigorous kicking on the playmat causes your wind-chimes to tinkle; vigorous kicking in the bathtub causes Mommy to get wet; vigorous kicking on the changing table while you’re naked makes whoever is changing your diaper laugh hysterically, and you like laughter. You’re even figuring out how to do it yourself, although I’m pretty sure it surprises you when it happens, and you’re still working on controlling it.
It has also been a month of discovery for me. I have discovered that your temper, which used to be something of a little joke, something to blame your screaming on, is real. So very real. I worry about your toddler years and can often be heard explaining to you during what can only be described as a raging tantrum that if you were three years old instead of three months old, you would be in serious trouble. If our life were a movie at these moments it would involve demonic possession and spinning heads.
And then you smile. Fortunately, this is how you spend most of your time–smiling. People no longer have to perform to make you smile; you do it just because you like what you see. You smile at strangers, now, and when Chapin walks by or Suzanna comes into the house. You smile when the phone rings or when you hear an interesting noise. You smile when you wake up in the morning, and when I am trying to get you to go to bed at night, and best of all, you smile when I come home from work in the afternoons, and even though I don’t want to go back the next day, knowing I get to come home to your smile makes it all doable.
This month you’ve taken communication to a whole new level, sqealing and screeching with such vigor that I’m sure you’ve stumbled upon the meaning of human existence and you’re trying to share it with anyone who will listen. You’ve even taken to engaging strangers, and when they stop to chat with you, you wave your arms and legs with pure glee. One night last week I recorded your squeals on my phone and played them back to you, and your eyes widened and your stare became fixed, and you listened to your own voice like it was coming straight from Heaven. I’m glad to report that you even talked with our neighbor Robin on Saturday, and this makes me immensely happy and very relieved. You see, Robin is black, and last week when she and her friend Annie, also black, tried to talk to you, you got a horror-stricken look on your face, your bottom lip shot out, and you began to scream. Which is exactly what you did when one of the secretaries at my school tried to hold you the week before. One of the secretaries who happens to be black. I was starting to worry that you had a problem. But when Robin came over on Saturday to watch you while I worked in the yard, she scooped you up and held you, and you smiled and smiled, and then you began to talk to her in your sweet little voice, and I knew it was all good.
And it is–it is all good. Even though I cried a little when I had to pack away your newborn clothes last week, and even though you give Linda Blair a run for her money when you’re pissed, and even though I have to get up every day and leave you for eight hours during the week, I can’t imagine anything better than you. I just can’t imagine.
Ti amo, Mommy