Happy birthday, son

birthday-cake-v-3Dearest M,

It’s been one long, yet fleeting year.

To be honest, I don’t remember each day. I don’t even remember that much of the day you arrived.  But here you are.

You are one now. When you were first born though, you couldn’t hold your head up. Your arms and legs flopped everywhere. You cried and you slept. A lot. Even the smallest newborn size onesie hung off you.

I carry a camera with me everywhere, hoping to capture you, doing anything really.  In your first month though, you didn’t do much. Your eyes were closed in most of those photos. If they weren’t closed then they’d be wide open as if you were in shock. Where am I? What am I doing here?  When we hold you now, you push off and crawl away, eager to check out everything.

When you sleep, I review the videos I take of you a million times because I can’t take you all in at once. This time I will marvel at how your right hand moved, and now let me focus on your wobbly cheeks.

You are one now, and you can’t walk yet. But when you grab onto the walker you lift your legs high one at a time and you S.T.R.I.D.E. With purpose. You stomp down the narrow hallway, and as you approach the lounge, you hold your head up high as if to hold up a crown, as if on a royal tour, surveying your subjects.

Away from the walker, you grip my hand so tightly.  I thought you were afraid to let go, I thought you were being unbrave. Until my friend pointed out that you were probably gripping hard for balance. I felt ashamed to have ascribed to you something negative that wasn’t even true. I won’t underestimate you again.

You are one now. I hope we have provided a safe space for you. Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally.  I hope you have felt warm.  I hope your belly has been filled. I hope you have been happy.  All this time, even those times when we let you cry so that you could learn to sleep, did you feel loved?  You couldn’t see us, but we were always watching, I promise.

You are one now.  You are looking more and more like a little boy, no longer a baby. But there are times when I look at you on the monitor and secretly hope that you would just cry and cry, be inconsolable, be so devastated, that I have no choice but to go in and snuggle you close to me. You are one now, but you are not going to be one forever.

But you, son, are one now.

Happy birthday, my love.





Your disproportions

My dear son,

I take a million pictures of you. I want to bottle you up and store you away, because you are already growing too quickly.  You have almost tripled your weight in these short months, and soon you will be too big for my arms.

I can’t stop staring at you, when you sleep, when you smile, when you kick your legs, when you raise your head. When you were even smaller than you are now, you fed and slept like an old man. After filling your tummy, you would hold your forearms to the sides of your face and stretch your neck. Your eyelids were too heavy from sleep to open, so you’d just raise your eyebrows.

When you were seven days old, I couldn’t bring myself to let your Nena cut your hair.  I loved how your hair looked wet and clung to your forehead. I loved how straight it was, even though I always wanted you to have Baba’s curly hair.  That day I cried for you—though for other reasons—and let your Nena shave your head.  Your hair has grown back now, by and large. Even the shape of your head is different.

When you were first born, you had a heavy row of very very short eyelashes. No longer than two millimeters, but the lashes were very close together. For a while, you had the most beautiful grey eyes. We had no idea where that came from, but they were soft grey and melted my heart. They are changing slowly. A bit of brown has crept into your right eye, and maybe soon they will be even darker.

Your face still takes up only the lower part of your head.  And looking at you from a low angle, I can see a perfect circle enveloping your face.  You are a perfect circle to me.  There is a video of your cousin J when he was about 4 months old, and he was waking up from sleep at Grandmas. He had his little hands to his face, grabbing, scratching at his eyes.  Both his hands did not even cover a small part of his face.  The disproportions made me melt, and now I see that with you too.

It’s hard to believe I’m a mother to an almost-toddler who makes me laugh everyday with his gummy grin and soundless clapping. It both thrills and scares me that soon everything in that last sentence will change, as your teeth cut through and you find the coordination to align your hands to make noise.