Holy cow. I have only known him for five months now. FIVE MONTHS. Well, really 13 months, right? But this face. I have gazed at it now for five months. I look at this guy and his face and I see another part of myself - a part of myself I never knew. And what is more, I didn't know that I didn't know this part of me.
But now I do.
And somehow I am more whole.
God knew we needed this guy. In our family. In this chaos. In this now.
This really is what parenthood is. An expanding of self out into the world. And then a realization dawns, at some point. Oh. And that isn't me. They are their very own selves. But somehow you have actualized a corner of you, into this new being, that you cant control or fully protect forever. And one day they walk up the stairs to school. And life begins in a new and different way for you all.
Having a fourth baby, so many years after the third, is vividly pointing this out to me. I watch him and remember his brother and sisters passing the same milestones. Was it just yesterday? No? Four years ago? Seven? Almost ten??
It is unnerving. When they are all little you are caught up in it all. The sticky hands and the sleepless nights and the cheerios everywhere and the chaos and exhausted joyful days. And then it slows a little. You find yourself going a whole day without pottying accidents. They sit and look at books and play Lego and the house is quiet. You can send them outside to run in the yard. You sip tea while looking out at them and the whole world silently expands, your horizons seemingly unlimited.
Things start changing slowly but then it escalates. And you find yourself reminiscing the baby days. When you had three under 4 years old. When they toddled around and wore crazy outfits. Gluing each others feet to the floor. Cutting hair out of the way. Trying to hug beams of sunlight in the dusty kitchen. The problems are different now. From potty training to potty mouth friends. From how to share toys to offering to share lunch with the kid who doesnt get enough food in her lunchbox, and why doesnt she have enough food mom? From learning your letters to finding books to read in the big kid section that doesnt involve "kissy stuff." Screaming over where are my red socks to why do I have to wash my hair its only been 6 days.
And time slows for a minute at a time, as if magic. The lens zooms in and he is in focus. This beam of light. He breathes in and out in his sleep. I take pictures of him every night on my phone. His perfect little round fuzzy head, the fists curled, the dimpled feet. He sleeps against my chest as I type, breath in and out. finally asleep after fighting it all morning. He wants to be big, so big! At five months he is almost crawling on hands and knees, wanting to eat at every meal, cutting his second tooth. Saying mama and da. Only satisfied if he can stand, leaning against my legs against the ottoman.
And I am so grateful for this last trip into babyland. A trip I had thought we'd never be able to take again. I breathe in every sigh. Every milky breath. Every damp head nestled against me. Reveling in his potential yet to unfold. Who is he? Where will his road take him?
And I find myself having a new appreciation for my big kids. Remembering their baby years with an ache. Tearing up at how big they are getting. How full of life they are. How awesome amazing even if maddening creatures they have become, the unfolding of their selves in such long days, yet such quick years.
And then you find him chewing on a little wool felted baby doll you made your big seven year old when she was a baby. Remnants of a former life.
Slow down baby man. Slow down Sara, as all of life and career and goings on whirl about. Slow down. Drink this moment in.