It’s a lovely day here in our part of the Midwest: Cloudy but warm, in the 50s this afternoon. The light filtering in through the windows of our little cottage is tempting us out and into the day. It isn’t spring yet, but this air tells us spring’s coming. Things aren’t easy, but they’re getting there: J is feeling more peaceful, Bram is interacting more and more. He’s only had two long sleeps so far, but that’s a start. It’s a promise of more. He loves high contrast board books. He’ll sleep in the MamaRoo for twenty minutes or so twice a day, and it’s startling what you can do with twenty arms-free minutes. He can’t get enough of music – jazz, classical, folk – so we sing and dance our way through each day. He’ll be six weeks tomorrow, and in keeping with this “I heart rain, it makes the grass grow green” onesie, the boy is growing.
He must be nearing eleven pounds. He’s too long for nearly all of his zero-to-three month clothes, and for his newborn diapers. He still loves our sling carriers, but he’s spending more and more time awake and alert, his first attempts at play, which involve grabbing at or pushing away our hands, discovering his own dangling limbs, reaching for (but not clasping) rattles, and smiling when we bestow loud, loud smooches on his finally.healing cheeks. He’s busy learning about this world, a concentration you can see in his furrowed brow line.
I love how much of his life he shares with us, but I also adore watching him in his own, private world, the one we’ll never fully grasp. It’s not a lot, but he does have some autonomy. Before he came, I wondered how I’d gauge his consent: how would I know for sure if he wanted baby massage, or yoga, or kisses? But we don’t need language to read each other in these ways. And he doesn’t have to cry for me to know he doesn’t grant consent. I watch him, and I know. We ask for his permission to do things, and then we watch to see if we have it. Respecting him – both his needs and his boundaries – is a great pleasure to me. It might be one of the greatest of this whole journey. I don’t want to shelter my child from grief, or sadness, or even pain (it hurts him to digest, but I know that’s just part of it; it’s just hard to be a new person with new little organs and new, unpracticed flesh), but I pray with all of my might that he might always know respect, that he might always respect others.
I love co-parenting with J. She is a remarkable parent, and I believe we are doing well by this child. Second only to honoring my marriage, this is the strongest calling in my life, and meeting this calling is thrilling. I don’t always feel great at parenting, but I do always feel that I’m mothering him in a way that is consistent with my values, my beliefs, my intentions for my family. I believe that J and I are a great team. I listen to The Swell Season’s “In These Arms” * and believe that I was born to hold this baby, to guide him. It is more of a privilege than I can describe. When he’s grown, someday, I hope he’ll read this and think these words have been born out. If he does, I’ll believe I’ve used this life well.
* Thank you, MJB. You and your music bring us much light.