Posted by GIRL'S GONE CHILD | Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Archer turned eighteen-months on Thanksgiving and although I realize that 1/2 is only 1/2 as meaningful as a 1/whole, I have a soft spot for half-birthdays as it doesn't feel like so long ago that I introduced myself in halves and three quarters and thirds.
"How old are you?"
"I'm ten and a half. How old are you?"
"Eight and three quarters."
And as children we understood perfectly.
And as adults, or shall I say, parents, we still do:
"How old is your child?"
"Sixteen weeks" or "Seventeen months" or "forty-seven months..." (which is when I have to do the math on my fingers.)
Before I had a child I was always annoyed with the parents who rattled off their children's ages in months like I was supposed to know the difference between thirteen months and twenty-six months and thirty-three months and so on. Why couldn't she just say my kid is three and three quarters?" I always found it to be some strange parent-language but now that I have a child, I get it. I do.
Because when you have a baby, ever day counts. Ever week matters. Every month is a revelation, a collection of milestones so vast, it is easy to forget that they have even happened.
Archer, now eighteen months, has suddenly over the course of several weeks,turned into a little boy. And sometimes when I look at him, my heart melts. I fall between the floor cracks in gooey strands. Those eyes. That little belly-laugh. Those ever-cold hands and toes like chubby berries. Can I eat them? Delicious!
Today I was describing Archer to an old friend on the phone and I got teary-eyed trying to explain the emotion I felt looking at this photo.
How in the hell could something so perfect come from me? How is it possible that this tiny beam of light didn't used to exist?
And I felt suddenly blindsided by love. Bumping into everything and skipping down the sidewalk and over-tipping the hostess who isn't even allowed to accept tips in love.
And so I went to him, asleep in his crib, with his legs tucked up under his chest and I just stood there like a fool, staring with mouth agape, shaking my head like, "who are you?"
Seriously. Who are you?
Who is this little boy walking across the street, in the cold, with his hands outstretched for balance. How is that he can be walking toward me, with his little shadow tripping beside him? He wants ME to pick him up. He wants ME to love him and hold him and pick the boogers from his nose. He wants ME to fall asleep on in the shower, with water in our faces and rubber duckies on our heads. Me. ME? But I'm just me.
But to him I'm me x infinity. Super-me. Like my mother was to me and hers to her and so on.
And sometimes I watch him for clues. For expressions that look like mine, dirty looks, cockeyed glances, crooked smiles.
When I saw this photo I thought. "Yup, he's mine."
The posed look I always have in photographs, and his face making the same expression. I laughed. And then I cried because it's hard to believe he is my baby sometimes.
There are times when I don't believe it and I seriously think Archer can't be mine, that he has somehow come from a distant planet and is some kind of alien messiah sent for the greater good of earth. (It makes more sense in my head. I swear.)
Then of course there are the days when parenthood is like trying to rescue bees from a swimming pool (knowing right well you'll probably get stung) but that's for another day.
Parenthood. Bees. Little boys with great big eyes who walk on two feet and fall down and laugh and scream and wipe their eyes when they're sleepy and lie down on their blankies in the middle of the cement and play peek-a-boo.
A half birthday may not be much, but to me, the mother of a 1.5 year old, a half birthday is huge. Eighteen months. So fast.
One day I won't count months anymore. Soon it will be years. Something I can't even begin to imagine. But even as the months fly by and the weeks and the days practically disintegrate, I am grateful. And thankful. And in love. More in love than ever. Looking forward to tomorrow morning when I get to wake up to Archer's open-mouthed kiss on my cheek and fingernails clawing at my face like stingers. Always my little bumble bee.