Hill turns two in a month. Partly because he is a second child and partly because he has lived over half of his life in the strange conditions of a global pandemic, a little piece of me flags as I prepare for this birthday and think back on all of the firsts and lasts and could-haves that have slipped by unannounced. There were entire months over the past year in which I existed in pure survival mode, barely blustering my way through the day, and when I’d close the door to his bedroom at night, I’d stand there in the dim light of the hallway, wavering on my feet, the silence in our apartment ringing in my ears, a dinosaur in my back pocket, and a vague fatigue clouding my eyes and pressing down on my shoulders. I grieve those days for him. Life for me was more about putting one foot in front of the other, making it to the other side of daylight. Things eased up in the summer, after my recovery, after a week outside of the city, after we finally secured childcare, but — I grieve those days for him. For mini, too, but especially for him, because mini enjoyed two entire and uninterrupted years of our unflagging attention, and micro has only ever had half of ours, and less than that share during those dark days of the pandemic. I was doing my best, I tell myself. He is happy; he is loved. I can see his chubby figure toddling around the Great Lawn, blissfully chasing his sister, on the innumerable string of afternoons we spent there over the summer, and can hear that belly laugh of his that has punctuated so many of our days in the past year. He is easy-going; he is affectionate; he is a blithe little fellow. Still, I think, those months — a blight.
While I’m lingering on the tough, sinewy bits of the last year, another admission materializes: I can’t remember the last time I rocked him to sleep. It’s funny how that game goes: one day, you are walking back and forth in his tiny off-kitchen bedroom, avoiding the creaky floorboard, your arms nearly giving under the weight of his surprisingly-dense body, and the next, you are tidying up the kitchen, craning to hear his cry, and pleasantly surprised when it does not materialize. Only — the absence of that familiar cry that particular night proves a temporary boon. Because now, on the uncommon occasion he climbs into my lap and presses his body against mine, resting his head on my shoulder, I am weepy with nostalgia. I am awash with wonder. I cannot take my eyes off the movements of his tiny fingers, occasionally parroting my own actions in the unexpected, soft pat of my back — three taps of his little palm in a borrowed gesture of reassurance (!) — but usually moving in that funny idle way of a baby, playing with the hem of the blanket, in constant adjustment and curiosity. I find myself new again, as though experiencing motherhood for the first time: the details so tender and fine-tipped.
I don’t want two to come. It is the eve of attitude and the end of infancy. But here we are, and I know there is much to look forward to, having witnessed the blooms of curiosity and personality and awarenesses in my older child. This birthday, then, induces motherhood in its purest form: I am a heart rent in too many directions.
+More on this notion of keeping time as a parent: “Oh. I know now. She was how she kept time. The all-consuming centricity of parenthood, the reframing of all things, the centripetal force of my daughter. The way I will remember moving to New York through the lens of her eight-month-old self, the cramped and harried naps she took in a pack-and-play in the corner of our hotel room, or in my arms on the unmade bed, back when she was little enough to endure my tremulous voice on stressed phone calls and still sleep soundly through it all. The way I will think of the steps in our first home in Chicago through the prism of the sharp pain I felt ascending and descending them for the first few times after my c-section, wanting desperately to get to her but unable to move with more speed. The way my meals, my available times for phone calls, my weekend plans conform to her waking schedule.”
+An aubade to parenting — written before the birth of my first!
+A few of the birthday gifts I’m considering for micro (must get organized – birthday is only a few weeks away!):
THIS COOL ROCKING HORSE (THE DESIGN IS SO FUN)
+Great Zoom top – interesting details, but still professional.
+Speaking of interesting but professional, I’ll forever be a DVF fangirl. I have several wrap dresses of hers I bought just after college that I’ll wear until the end eternity. I like that the prints are bold but the dress is timeless in style (and appropriate for any age). You can just as easily wear with pumps as you can with sandals. I especially love this slightly more feminine flounced style.
+Speaking of sandals, these popular under-$100 sandals were just restocked in great colors.
+Such fun shades just released in such great colors — the green!
+The kind of white top you buy on a whim that ends up being a major workhorse in your wardrobe. Perfect with jeans, under joveralls, with a skirt…
+These striped acrylic glasses are just begging for a margarita.
+Stop what you’re doing and check out this $129 dress, which gives me major Brock or Markarian vibes.
+A gorgeous and highly versatile LBD. Appropriate for work and social events.
+I just saw these sneakers on Jenny Walton and…I think I need them.