a snapshot in words (baby-heavy post)
So much - or all - of this year is really only my journey intertwined with his existence and as the second of November crept up I became more and more aware that selfish as it may be, all of the emotions I was feeling were for me. His first birthday? is a milestone for me.
I thought I was different and strong and focused and independent but then month four rolled around and I fell in love. Ibraheem slept in his own room, and recognized me and giggled for no reason and watched his hands reach out and touch his toys in amazement. He circled his toes in one direction and then the other and got mesmerized by his reflection in mirrors and smiled a big goofy toothless smile from behind his pacifier every night I tucked him in and I fell so hard.
I pulled back over and over, foolishly, to reclaim myself. I am driving six hours away from him for the weekend as I type, even on his first birthday, because I am stubborn and insist that he is part of me but not the whole but what a futile endeavour this is, what a lie. In my heart of hearts I know this is it. I am done for. This is my life and my children will forever own and control my heart even as I deny it and make fake time for myself.
Over this year I have come full circle in reverse; from spending guiltless hours in the gym, on the computer, and running errands in the initial months, I now find the slightest excuse to get up from my desk and books to pick and touch him as soon as he comes inside after playing in the courtyard with the babysitter because I realized belatedly that he was, in fact, growing up very quickly. That if I didn't pay closer attention I would miss everything.
And I struggle every so often, even a year on, on the cusp of 29 years of age, to figure out who I am and what I want to do now. I grapple with this momentous life change that I caused to happen purposefully which has altered my life in unimaginable ways both beautiful and difficult and is here to stay. But even as I am plotting, mapping out the next few months and years and foolishly demarcating parts of the day as mine to be cerebral and important and productive, I want to remember. Possessing the knowledge that most babies follow the same roads of discovery and growth and nothing about this matters much to anybody except for me, I want to remember:
the song and dance I do in front of the entire shop without so much as batting an eyelash to get his hair cut every two months,
the flat and square shape of his bitty toe nails and how we sing the national anthem to puzzle and distract him as I stealthily cut his nails with the little scissors that Apya gave to me,
the unabated flow of happy babble over the monitor every morning right at 7 a.m. and how I can count on finding him standing at the corner of the crib closest to the door with his hands on the rails, waiting for me with a smile that turns into disbelief that I actually showed up when I enter,
that his absolute favourite foods are sweet potatoes, bananas, and palak gosht,
the hysterical crawl-chase-tackle-tickle game that we play in the living room,
the way his hands and feet make a rapid pitter-patter sound when he is racing towards me because a) he is afraid of the wind-up car because it is moving on its own, or b) he has figured out where I am and is coming to get me, fast and furious,
his swollen eyes in the morning because he sleeps on his stomach, hands by his sides, with his butt in the air,
how we discovered on our first long road trip to Tampa when he was a little over a month old that most versions of 'Here comes the sun' calmed him down when he got fussy,
our trip to the ER when he started getting violently sick and became dehydrated and my intense guilt for ever wishing for my old life as I sat in the back seat, blowing air in his face to prevent him from falling unconscious and trying desperately to hold it together,
our trip to Mount Rainier and the wonder in his eyes that we'd never seen before ashis eyes followed the lengths of the tall trees and arms stretched out to touch leaves in delight,
his inability to roll over, crawl, or move much at all until he was well over eight months old, much to the chagrin of aunties every where,
the moment he finally figured out how to sit down on the ground from a standing position, thus ending the blissful months of us being able to stick him in a spot for any duration of time, secure in the knowledge that he wouldn't go anywhere,
the way he held his blanket over his face to sleep for a few months before he learned to roll over,
his mouth hanging open when he is in deep concentration,
his love to rattle and bang on every surface, and particular fondness of pushing any kind of button with his index finger,
him scolding us when we leave him in his highchair for too long, laughing, pleading to be let out, and expressing anger at the same time,
his nose nuzzling into the back of my legs as I cook every afternoon, big wet open-mouthed kisses reserved for me and open armed hugs,
and above all, his ability to be completely and utterly joyous every single day for absolutely no reason at all.
It is his birthday, but all I can think about is how this is about us, about me. About the discoveries he has made as he has become delightfully aware of himself and the world around him but also about how we have become a team exploring my strength and weakness. How he forces me to slow down, and challenges me to grow up. It is so scary to know and control so little, so heady and exhilarating, and I love him so much more than I ever thought I could.