December 13, 2005
I spent the first 21 years of my life wishing time would hurry up. I remember wanting to turn double digits, I couldn’t wait to get my ears pierced, I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license. And then to turn 18 and move out, to turn 21 and be a bona fide legal alcohol swilling adult. I was forever wishing time away and I see your older siblings doing it too.
Then I spent a period of time in my life where I didn’t wish time would hurry up. I just went along with it, content. It was a relatively short period of time since I was married and pregnant by the time I was twenty-four years old. It wasn’t until I was a parent that I began to wish time would slow down. Slow way way down. While there are things that I look forward to accomplishing in my life, they are no longer age dependent.
It amazes me that a year has passed since your birth. Yet at the same time, it is as though I have known you forever. I can not imagine a life in which you did not exist. When I think back to a period of time before you were born I now imagine you there also, waiting on the sidelines.
Last night we were in bed. I was reading and you were nursing. It was a typical night. I was wishing you would hurry up and fall asleep. You were kicking your leg, trying to hit your father with your foot. We were both trying to ignore you, hoping that you would fall asleep out of sheer boredom. You still do not sleep well at night and have probably never slept longer than four hours at a stretch. Then you began clapping your hands. I looked down at you and our eyes met. You stopped nursing and pulled your head away so that you could better look into my eyes.
I remembered the day you were born. When they laid you onto my body. You were screaming. Our eyes met and instantly you stopped crying. We looked into each others eyes. We didn’t need any words, we just knew each other. I hope I remember that moment always, the moment we first met and gazed into each others eyes free from the burdens of pain and disappointments we are sure to inflict on each other over time.
Wait, just wait, I beg time. Just slow down so I can fully etch this moment in my memory.
Your love of the vacuum is unparalleled and equal only to your sister’s hatred of it. Whenever I pull out the vacuum you excitedly run and try to get in front of it, almost as if you are daring the vacuum to suck you up also. Your sister runs behind you, screaming and usually grabbing you by the back collar of your shirt and dragging you on your back across the room. You don’t like that much.
You now walk all the time. I thought I would never forget the way you crawled scooting on your butt, using one arm to pull your body along, the way that someone who has no control over their lower body would do. But already that memory is fading, being replaced by the newest thing, being replaced by the way you walk kicking your legs out to the side as you step.
You have finally developed the concept of object permanence. Fancy words to mean that you know things exist even if you can not see them. What this means in practical terms is that I can no longer hide my coffee cup behind my back and expect you not to look for it. It also means that you can accept my brief absences without too much angst. Throwing a blanket over my head and then pulling it off saying, “peek-a-boo”, while still fun, doesn’t hold the thrill that it used to anymore.
I miss the way you would go from panic that I was gone, shock that I materialized before your eyes, and happiness that I was back. I loved the way it never got old for you and we could play the game over and over again and each time it was like new for you. Now you put the blanket over your own head and pull it off, which is an adorable new game in it’s own right.
We play this game, you and I, where you walk away from me. I spread my arms wide. You stop and turn after making it half way across the room and giggle to see me waiting there. You run to me, well do your zombie walk as fast as you possibly can, sometimes losing your balance. But you never take your eyes off of mine. Your arms are spread wide like mine and when you reach me you wrap your arms around me and nuzzle my neck with your face. I breathe deeply inhaling your scent. I never want to forget this moment, the way you are right now.
Yesterday we were playing on the floor together. You got up off my lap and began walking away. I watched from behind as you toddled away from me, your arms held up for balance, your hands into little fists. You were giggling. I waited for you to pivot around and look for me. You paused at the threshold. I put my arms out in anticipation.
You kept walking. You walked right out of the room, never bothering to look back at me. I wanted to call for you. I wanted you to come running back to my arms.
I knew this was only the first time I would be watching you walking away from me, stepping out on your own. And while I know this is what being a parent is all about, letting go over and over again, until you think your heart is walked right out of your body. Maybe this is why it happens in such small steps, so that when you pack your bags and go off to college, confident that you know more than I do, I won’t be as sad to see you go. Maybe it is so your heart becomes hardened by these tiny fissures and doesn’t just shatter.
Nevertheless, as you walked away from me, and out of the room, I wanted to call out, “Wait. Come back. I’m not ready.”
You have two words that you say, “uh-oh” and “Eli”, the name of one of your brothers. Notice that neither one is Ma-ma. You like to throw your food off of your high chair and say “uh-oh” as you do it.
Once you are done doing that you like to get down from your highchair and eat the food off of the floor. We have the ten hour rule at our house. One of these days I’ll get smart and just throw your food on the floor and eliminate the pretense of you eating like a civilized human person.
You now have four little teeth. When you get excited you will bite me on the shoulder. Your feelings get so hurt when I involuntarily yelp. I can’t help it, it hurts, though your father always tells me that I over react. You use those four teeth to eat everything. Thanks to Halloween and your sister potty training you now have a love for candy. You are the first one at the kitchen cabinet when I am handing out treats.
I was reading your birth story last night(here and here) and already time has erased some of the edges off of the memory and blurred some of the pain, something that seemed unbelievable at the time. I no longer remember what bargains I made with God or what promises I vowed to keep if you were born safely. But I hope I have kept them. I am so thankful to have you.
Happy Birthday, my little caboose. I love you.
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