Already his little head has outgrown my hand. I stroke it’s downy softness in the waning light of the day. Already his little self has outgrown the crook of my arm. Chubby legs protrude, wigglier as the days go by. I think his eyes may stay blue. They are piercing in their blueness, fringed by long lashes. Already he is laughing, smiling and flirting with friendly faces. He laughs at Daddy tickling his chunky thigh, or brother’s face pressed close to his own. Today I wiped away a chocolatey kiss that I found on his cheek. That was another brother’s sweet kiss, a fierce sweet sticky sort of love. “See Baby Pete” he says, with a hard “T” at the end for emphasis. Seeing means not just with eyes but with a 2- year- old’s smackey kiss. A little hand pressed on his head. And I remember when he was just such a baby. So I try to gather these moments and tuck them deep in my heart.
He wakes just before dawn, needing mama’s milk, and I don’t mind so much. I flip on the night light and pick him up, squirmy in his crib, settle into our chair and he nurses contentedly. I look for the first light between the cracks of the blinds. I listen for that first birdsong, the trilling of dawn to a sleepy world. I gaze at the soft curve of his cheeks, his nose, his forehead. All soft and sweet and perfect. I keep my hand on his head, the one growing so fast and I must stop and gather these moments before they pass.I lay him back down to sleep, his eyes already shut tightly, his mouth sucking little sweet sucks as if he were still at my breast. He sighs and I smile and touch him gently on the chest, reassuring him, mama is still here. It won’t be that long really before the crib that held all my babies is packed away, sold even, and these babydays will be over. The emotion of that catches in my throat and my eyes well up. Yes, these days are not easy and I am easily overwhelmed with the needs of my home and my little ones. But I love them. These days and these babies. My oldest who still likes to pretend she’s my baby girl and snuggle as I stroke her hair, who says, “sing to me, mommy” at bedtime. My oldest boy child who always puts his little hand on my arm when we’re sitting on the couch reading, who cries sometimes if I don’t go in and kiss him goodnight. My 2 year old who says “hold you” and reaches up his little arms at all the most” inconvenient” times but I can hardly resist; whose chubby hand presses my head down to his kisses at bedtime. I want to freeze these moments and the love that wells up in gratitude to the True Father of these precious ones.
But time is inexorable and the days fleet of wing so I must press the soft faces close to mine and beg for these moments to print themselves indelible on my heart. So when these boys pull away from my kiss or speak words that cut, I can close my eyes and remember the tender baby boys that were and I will love them as fiercely. And when there are slamming doors and rolling eyes, I will think of that sweet blue eyed baby girl who first called me “mommy” -of all the gathered moments, the sleeping faces, the patter of feet down the hall, the “kiss it better tears”, the laughter and chasing and eyes scrunched in prayer; the things pondered and tucked away that keep my heart tender and brimming with joy.