Thursday, October 09, 2008

Even though I should be sleeping

Sometimes, deep in the quiet night, with the darkness wrapped around us like a blanket, I can feel boy's heartbeat against my stomach while he nurses. In the sleep-deprived fog of those times, I always wonder for a second if I'm actually holding him, or if he's still waiting to be born -- his thumping heart feels so much like the kicks I knew of him before he came to me. And I have to tell myself that it's those times that are the dream now, and the little man I'm cuddling in the night is what's real.

Before I lay him back in his crib, I always look down reflexively to see if he's sleeping. I say, "reflexively" because I can rarely actually see his eyes in the dark. I've found that in order to really see him during those moments, I have to look away from him. Something about the rods and cones of the eyes, I can never remember which one it is that helps you see in low light, but the point is, I see him better by looking away.

I wonder, now that he's almost nine months old, if the same holds true for our daily life. This time with him is the best time I have known -- watching him grow and change and learn is a collection of miracles that are alternately gentle and powerful. And yet, because my sight is always filled with boy, I wonder if I'm seeing all of him. Maybe, from time to time, it would be good for both him and me if I ran an errand without him, spent an hour by myself browsing books at Barnes and Noble, went to get my hair cut, ran to the dry cleaners with an empty car seat in the back. From day one, being boy's mom has meant being with him almost constantly -- he's not one to let you go on a coffee break, he's just not that kind of kid. And I don't mean "just about all the time during waking hours" -- I mean that from the start, he wailed when you put him down. He never did actually sleep in a bassinet or cradle -- those first few months, he slept in our arms, in bed with us. He's what I've come to call a high-touch baby -- just needs and craves that contact. And so from the instant we brought him home, there have been very few seconds when he wasn't literally touching me.

I thank God for these months and days -- for the chance to be fully present in what it means to be THIS mother to THIS boy. I am so grateful for the intense connection that boy and I have -- we need each other in a way that seems super-saturated in every aspect -- if it were a spectrum of color, our need for each other, it would have tenfold the colors that a rainbow has, and they'd be a hundred times as vivid. Because even when it's inconvenient -- even when I'm cataloging his sleep and I see that it's 12:20 a.m. and I've already nursed him back to sleep five times since I put him down at 7 -- even when I can't leave the room without instantaneous and panicked crying on his part -- even when I find myself at home on Friday and Saturday nights when other couples with kids have found a way to take an evening for themselves -- I know that I'll blink, and this season will be behind me, and I will mourn these days. 

Someday boy will read these entries, and he will be aghast. He'll be chagrined that I spoke so openly of how in love with him I am. He'll be embarrassed that I called him "beautiful," that I gushed so unreservedly about the tiniest aspect of his being -- his eyelashes and the way they lay against his cheek when he's looking down at his toys, or the dimple at the top of each chubby thigh. That will be the first someday. The someday I await is the one in which he gazes at his own child through blurry eyes, and remembers these posts.

Someday, he will say, "Yes. Yes, I know."


screamy mimi said...

This is SO beautiful and so true.

Shorty said...

Wow...thanks for taking me back! My son is 10 now and I often remember how it was when we was an infant, how he looked, felt and smelled to me. His father and I also let him sleep with us and we were always so grateful to have that time together. We couldn't imagine letting him cry in his room across the house. As he grew he was always a very "touchy" and affectionate child. He still is and I relish the times that he'll still hold my hand in public. He's now to the point where he won't kiss me good-bye in front of other people, but he will if we're in the car and no ones' looking. You should definitely keep enjoying your moments. Ten years in to your future will be here before you know it! Happy Mothering! You sound like a wonderful one!