Most of the time, I write you letters just to tell you how much I love you, or to catalog your rapid growth and capture the incredible journey you're on. But this time, I'm writing to apologize. This is something mothers aren't known for doing, son, so you should probably keep this post bookmarked, and just refer to it in the future when necessary. Which might be often, as you shall see.
Here's the thing. I thought I would be immune to at least most of the crazy things that women do when children leap from their wombs. I was sure I'd be able to resist the siren call of saying, "I told you so," or "Because I'm the mommy, that's why," or even "Just wait till your father gets home." I was positive I'd never put a jacket on YOU just because *I* was cold. And I never thought that I'd give in to picking up your messes YET AGAIN, muttering the whole time about "maids" and "gratitude" and "someday-you'll-see-what-I-mean."
But now I'm not so sure. A couple things have happened lately that make all those actions seem inevitable. And I feel like I should tell you about them, because they might happen again, and someday you'll be sentient enough to be utterly humiliated by them.
Last week, we were out on a short walk around the neighborhood, enjoying the mild weather and slanted evening sunbeams. We stopped to talk with some other mommies and babies doing the same thing, and when I glanced down at you, I noticed that I had missed a spot when I was wiping your face after your last meal. (To be fair, son, this is not entirely my fault. Whenever I commit the indignity of trying to render you mess-less in the facial area, you scream and carry on as if I were injecting you with some kind of experimental medication, or attempting to separate your limbs from your torso. You are amazingly adept at arm-swipes and hand-waving, so the damp paper towel doesn't always find its mark entirely.) Not wanting to be the mother who let her baby walk around with cereal and green beans on his face, I clicked my tongue in embarrassment and (this pains me to admit) licked my thumb, and applied the moistened digit to your face to work off the crusty remains of your dinner.
None of the other women around me seemed to give it a second thought, son, which tells me that it's a common occurrence on a street crowded with families with young kids, but as I was swabbing you down with The Mommy Venom Against Dried Foods, I was chagrined. It was happening! I was turning into every mother I'd ever heard of, including my own! I'd thought I was immune, safe from this transformation. I'd thought I was cool enough to resist the urge to put my own SPIT on the face of my progeny. Apparently not, however.
I'd managed to shake if off as a one-time transgression until today, when I feel like I've passed the point of no return. Just now, as we wrapped up a late lunch, I plucked you (face shining from my ministrations with a moistened Brawny) from your high chair and took you to the area your daddy calls The Pit -- the family room, which we've modified with the installation of a large baby gate that cordons off a baby-safe area where you can play and crawl happily. As I set you down to play, I noticed that there was a multi-grain Cheerio stuck to the back of your soft knit pants. Without hesitation of any kind, son, I plucked it off of you and popped it into my mouth. After all, it wouldn't do for it to be ground into my newly-vacuumed carpet.
While I crunched, the magnitude of my actions hit me like a punch in the gut. I'd just unstuck cereal from my child's clothing and eaten it off of him like some sort of starving person. And now I think it's all over, son, and so I'm saying "I'm sorry" ahead of time. If we're ever out and I approach you with a saliva-wet finger in front of your friends, or if I eat the leftovers of your meal RIGHT OFF YOUR PERSON while your horrified buddies look on, I am truly sorry. It's a DNA-level transformation, son, and it cannot be resisted.
By the way, you should know it's not just your mom who will slowly be descending into behavior unfit for public places. The other day, your dad admitted that when he saw you about to grind a spit-out strawberry-apple puff into the carpet, he took that soggy piece of cereal out of your hands and ate it himself. Which means he basically ate food you'd already chewed.
At least if you shun us, I guess I'll have company.