Today was DS’s 1st birthday. Poor kid was sick with a cold. Didn’t sleep well last night, didn’t nap much at all. Still, I think he had an okay time. The house was full of people, and we all seemed to enjoy ourselves.
I finally just got him to sleep. Lying there next to him, I’m acutely aware of the passage of time. His angelic round face, flawless skin, long eyelashes, flushed cheeks…babies are just so cute, and mine is no exception. I want to just preserve him, somehow. I know, watching him, that this little baby boy will be gone soon. One day in the future, when he is a man, I will try to remember him as he is today. I will long to hold him, to play with him, to see his chubby little hand in mine. And I will mourn the loss of that precious baby boy, while I celebrate the beautiful person I hope he will become.
This is the stuff of Life. This is the journey of parenting. Our time with our children is fleeting. They change, constantly. The baby girl that was my DD two years ago is gone. She is an amazing 3 year old now, and I love that 3 year old with all my heart. But she is such a different creature than the baby girl I nursed at my breast, that sometimes I feel I’m in mourning for that baby. I will never hold her like that again, never nurse her at my breast like that again. And so I stared at DS this evening and tried to etch every detail of him in my mind, in a futile attempt to give me something to retrieve one day, when I miss him so much and ache to hold him in my arms again. But it’s no use, because memories don’t have feel and smell and presence. Sometimes they aren’t even visually satisfying: I don’t remember exactly what DD looked like when she was a baby, confusing her face with that of her brother now. I need photos to prod my memory.
I used to think that there was much sadness in those who don’t savour moments. I never wanted to be one of those who faces the loss of a loved one with lingering regrets and a sense of not appreciating what I had until that person was gone. I recall saying goodbye to my brother on the last day I ever saw him, and thinking to myself “what if I never see him again”, and while dismissing that as silly thinking (never knowing I was right) still… I tried to savour the moment. I enjoyed his presence. I lived in the moments we had. But all it gives me now is the satisfaction of having no regrets. It doesn’t make the memories any more alive now. And so, while I stare into the face of my infant son, I know in my heart that this little child will leave me soon. I know that these days are the most precious of times…but I don’t know what to DO with that knowledge, except try to be thankful and treasure what I have now, in this moment.
I whispered it to DD one memorable night while I nursed her to sleep, her feet tucked into my lap, her curled body forming a perfect mirror image to my own, only smaller. “Don’t grow up yet. Don’t leave me just yet. I will miss you SO much.”
And I said it tonight to my baby boy. I am so excited at what lies ahead for you, but I’m also very sad that I have to give up this little baby that you are, and let you grow. I want to whisper to you, too “Stay where you are. Don’t leave me just yet.”
Happy birthday, my beloved son.