Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two Years

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Somewhere between our monotonous daily cycles of sleep/work/play/eat, and breathtaking moments of discovery about humility, empathy, and laughter...the dink turned two. Of course, I've heard it hundreds of times before--it goes by too fast; blink and they're teenagers...so I did expect the time to fly. But oh, how fast it has flown--especially for people like us who distinguish days of the week by the nature of our errands and to-do lists outside of working hours. So in some ways, I've really tried to listen to what people say, enjoying each part of the baby days of childhood before the next step comes too fast. But no one prepared me for how to avoid the grief of this moment, now that the moment has passed...when I find such sadness, guilt even, about my baby growing up.

Of course I am happy that he has survived the past two years: I am proud of all the words he's learned, tickled at the dance moves he's acquired, thrilled that he eats broccoli, pets cats, and would rather spend time with his family than just about anything else he's discovered in his entire little world. And I am happy that I've had the privilege of being his mommy. But it occurred to me the day of the dink's birthday party, when he woke up that morning having no idea of the commotion that would ensue, that at his age--and who knows, maybe it's like this forever--the birthday celebration is really about the mother. It's the day for me to remember how that little guy entered the world, how the world suddenly changed because he was in it, and how the two years that have passed since that revelatory November 10th are time that I have to close the door on, forever. Not in the sense of forgetting, but in the way that the years of all of our lives get whittled down into small treasure boxes of notable moments, milestones, pictures, choice stories. I've taken all the photos of baby dink that will ever exist. And I've spent as much time as I'll ever have nursing him, rocking him to sleep, holding him and communicating with him without language, sitting with him comfortably in my lap...and I'm having trouble coming to terms with that. I want more baby dink days, all three of us cooing in bed together on Saturday mornings. I want more anticipation of seeing him wear a new color and discovering his every look from a new angle. I want to keep watching him fall asleep, and I want him to keep calling me the second he wakes.

I guess this means that I'm ready for our new baby to arrive. Or maybe it means I'm not--that I'm grasping to hold on to the one that we have. Now I certainly don't harbor any notions that once a child turns two, I have to quit treating him like my "baby" and instead like a "big boy." I'll probably be like that old lady in Love You Forever, breaking and entering into his apartment in college to pat him on the back and make sure his feet are properly covered by his blankets (you know that's important to the dink). But without even noting the days of the time that is passing, I feel that babyness slipping further away. So while I am excited to know and understand who this little dink is with each year that his personality and his mind develops, for now, especially until the next baby arrives, I'll cherish the Mommy, hold yous and the sporadic hugs and kisses in the middle of play, and the awkward fit of him and me and my big belly in the rocking chair.

Probably one of the most notable moments from the day the dink was born that I relive almost every day was just hours after he was born, when J and I were finally alone and staring at the most precious specimen of human life we could imagine, and just seconds after marveling at how much we already loved him, I was gripped by the fear of continuing my own life if somehow I lost him. It's the worst part about having a child, in my opinion. And maybe this is more of a mother thing--after your body has spent so much time creating and bonding with this other being--the second that being breathes its own breath, you are suddenly rendered incapable of functioning without its existence. Sigh. So with that in mind, I guess I'll try to move past these feelings of sadness that the dink has already completed two years of life with me and spend some time instead thanking God that we have survived them, together.