Friday, June 3, 2011
This afternoon is lazy and sunny, and for the first time in perhaps years, I find myself posting on my blog simply because I have time, not because I feel absolutely desperate to do so. I'm sitting in our little sunroom while Maeve snoozes on my chest, snoring softly. Aoife is upstairs playing with our neighbor's granddaughter, a rare treat for a little country girl with no neighbors under the age of 50. Liam is at school releasing salmon frye into the Mill River behind his school, and Fiona and Greg have gone to observe the action by the riverside. So I am here, basking, melting, sleepy and rocking in an upholstered glider rocker, the sunshine warming my toes as the crickets hum outside my window and the wind blows through the screen, refreshingly crisp after a week of hot weather.
After my post last night, I went upstairs with Maeve tucked in the crook of my arm. She's still so tiny that I'm not really one handed yet-- more one-and-a-half handed, because I can hold her in my elbow and still use that hand if I hold something close enough. She's also so tiny that I haven't really transitioned her to hanging out in a sling or a Moby yet-- and I have the privilege of having Greg home right now (and for another week) so I really can just swaddle her up and hold her. So up we went, and I brushed my teeth and changed into some cozy pajamas, and swapped out Maeve's filmy muslin swaddling blanket for a thick flannel one. It had grown cold and I closed the windows, and then we climbed into the big sleigh bed together. I laid her on her back on the bed and curled myself around her. And then I rested my cheek on the down of her hair, and breathed her in.
I thought to myself, I want you here until you're three, or four, here curled next to me. I thought this even knowing that it wasn't true, because at some point she will become big, and sweaty, and cranky during the night. She'll grow teeth that will pinch my nipple after she falls asleep, and she'll toss and turn and crawl around in the bed at night and it won't be peaceful anymore. What I want is just this: a newborn, sweet and milky, soft and delicious to curl myself around forever.
There is nothing like experience as a mother to make caring for a newborn simply the most delicious prospect ever. They are so sweet and undemanding, even as demanding as they are. Every single demand that a newborn makes is real: I am hungry, I am wet, I am lonely. There is no manipulation, no deceit, no desire, even. It is simply need, and as a mother, these are simple needs to fulfill. Children become ever so much more complicated as they grow: they need to be interpreted on a much more complex level. They try to swindle you and perplex you and wheedle things out of you at every opportunity. These are also the things that give them remarkable personalities, delightful wit and hilarious spunk. I love parenting my older children to the extent that it has taken away some of the bitter-sweetness of their growth. They are fun, intelligent, wonderful PEOPLE that I absolutely love to hang around with. But I love the primitive newness of a newborn. Maeve is here, undoubtedly human but still figuring out how to be out in the world. Her personhood lies twisted intricately with my own. I want to wallow in this mixed up love for as long, and as deep as I can. I simply love it.
I have said this before, but I'll say it again: I'm constantly curious about how much of my own deep gratitude and obsessive love for my children is grown out of my experience of loss. Having never parented before Charlotte, I could never truly know how much of what I feel is simply what any mother feels, and how much of it is born out of the incredible longing for life on earth that came along with her loss.
All I know is, I'm in deep. And I can't believe that it just keeps growing. Every child I have, I grow bigger, and have more love to give, and more to get, and my family feels more full and amazing.
Off to sit here, and rock in the sunshine, and breathe deeply the smell of a sweet, innocent newborn life. Lucky, lucky me. And you know I mean that. I am so unbelievably lucky, even given how it all started.