Today a friend was holding you so I really got to look into your eyes. You were cooing at me with your cheeky tongue out when she asked, “What are you saying?” and then paused before proclaiming “Love. Love! That’s all you’re saying, isn’t it?”
After your sister was born, I remember sitting in the sterilized doctor’s office on that thin, loud paper, pouring my heart out to an OB psychologist. I told her through tears, “I’m worried she doesn’t like me!” and she said, not patronizingly, “No baby is born not loving their mother.” This seems more obvious now, like when someone tells you breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Since having you, it feels like I’m not in my high school years of parenthood any longer, if that makes sense. I’m not awkwardly scanning the park for friends, or sadly eating my lunch alone or constantly doubting myself. I feel more like I did once I was in college. I know how to make friends and be as prepared as I can for what’s in front of me and still have time for myself without feeling debilitating guilt. Of course, this part of the letter has more to do with me than it does you, but I guess to some degree I write these letters so you will know me too; not as your parent, but as a person in the world, trying to make my way and figure out the steps.
It’s been hot all week. The kind of heat that seems to suck all the dampness out of your throat, like that weird mouth vacuum at the dentist. It’s January! I wasn’t expecting to put sunscreen on your sister before school. You and I got to go to the pool though. You love it. You smile at all the other babies and the teacher. You let her hold you and dip you under. You aren’t sure what to think about the water in your eyes, but you don’t cry. You wait patiently when we’re done for me to squeeze my tight jeans over my damp legs. You stick your tongue out and say a bunch of vowel sounds really enthusiastically in the quiet, echoey bathroom and I know, without a second thought, that you are saying “Love!”
Love right back to you and over and over again little bird,