If there were a way to stop your growing, I’d be sorely tempted to try it. That would be incredibly unfair to you and not acknowledge your amazing advances, physically and mentally. But even so, I want to keep you as you are for just a little longer. Five months into this gig, and you are blazing past milestones at amazing speed. Every time I look at you, you’re a little bigger. A little more aware. A little more mobile. A little more awe inspiring. I can’t believe I made you. I can’t believe that I have the honor of being your mom. You blow me away.
All these months, I’ve been in survival mode. Treading water between being a mom and working full time. Things I thought were important in my life have fallen to the background. I know I can pick them up again when you’re older. Right now, I don’t want to miss a moment. It’s bad enough being away from you for eight hours a day. I can’t fathom taking more than two or three hours to myself at a go because I know when I return, you’ll have grown even more.
Now, at five months, I feel like I can really stop to enjoy you. All of the previous months have been leading to this one, when I can stop and breathe and take you in. But I thought I’d be enjoying my newborn. What I mean is, I thought you’d stay smaller a little longer. I thought there was time. Once I got all my ducks in a row, I thought you’d still be there- just as you were when you arrived. I know it’s illogical to believe that you’d be the same tiny boy five months into your development. My head always knew that there was no stopping you. But my heart doesn’t understand. She’s thumping in my chest a soulful, sad beat of , “What happened? Come back! Where did my baby go?”
And now I’m sobbing as I type this because I miss you so much when I’m at work. And because I know that I’m missing lots of little things. For example, you not only can hold your own bottle now, you can also correct it and catch it before it falls from your mouth. You are almost sitting up all by yourself! You babble all the time now telling us your baby stories. And you can get your foot into your mouth. The person who notices and reports on these developments is your father. He is the day-shift parent. You make your leaps and bounds with him during the day.
I’m a day-shift employee and night-shift parent. We cuddle together all night. You wake and cry, and I feed and change you. I try to help you sleep so your little body can relax and grow. So your mind can process all you’ve accomplished during the day with your dad. But I don’t get to see all these advancements as they build on one another- totally changing you from my baby to a little boy. My god- you’re almost ready for a hair cut for crying out loud.
Your father and I are no different from any other parents. All parents figure out how to take care of their kids while working to pay the bills. It’s just how the world works. And I bet that we’re no different in our regrets as well. Starting next month, your father will work full-time in the evenings. He and I will barely see each other.
We should be grateful. Not every parent gets the chance to take the summer off with baby. You and your father have bonded beyond all I could have hoped for. Sometimes he knows better what you want than I do. He has his own tips and tricks for calming you down, getting you to sleep, getting you geared up to go out, etc. You two have a connection that is special and different from what you and I have. And that’s as it should be.
Speaking of connections, this past month you met another grandparent! This time it’s my step-father, Gary. You’re such a charmer, he’s already planning another trip to see you next year.
In other news, you’ve officially started solids! So far you’ve tried sweet potatoes, peas and squash along with cereal. Your favorite by far has been the squash. Next we’re going to try carrots and green beans. I have given you a mix of stuff from jars and making your puree from fresh veggies. You don’t seem to have a preference for canned or home made at the moment. But you do enjoy trying to grab the spoon from me and put it in your own mouth. Such an independent little guy already!
But the newest development that made me want to cry happened during your most recent swim lesson. We just started our second session of Mommy & Me swim lessons. On Sunday, I decided you were in the right mood and were ready to give it a try. I dunked you completely under the water for the first time. And when you bobbed back to the surface, you were a little alarmed but regained your composure in moments. I couldn’t have been prouder. Damn near cried in front of all the other mommies. But instead I smiled and told you how well you did. We only tried once, but now we’ve set a precedent. We have to try to immerse completely at every lesson going forward. All you’re ever worried about in your swim lessons though is reaching and trying to consume the plastic boats that we use as incentive to kick your legs.
When I think about all you’ve accomplished this month, one song creeps into my mind- Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle. “If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing I’d like to do, is save every day ’til eternity passes away, just to spend them with you.”
Bottling babies is frowned upon by society. And even if I could just keep you under glass, you’d keep right on growing anyway. Nothing would be more selfish than to try to slow you down. So I won’t. Even if I could, I wouldn’t. But I can’t promise that I can keep my tears contained when I come home from work to find you have hit another milestone.
One day I’ll open the door and you’ll crawl to me. You’ll walk to me. If I’m lucky, you might even run to me in excitement with a crayon drawing covered in glitter and macaroni to present to me. I’ll be so proud. And I might cry. But not from sadness exactly. From the bittersweet knowledge that with every step, you need me less. That you are putting the silly business of childhood behind you with more and more speed. I’m going to try to focus on the present from here on out. Because the future is coming up so quickly, it’ll be here whether I fret and anticipate it or not.