16 months / by Christina Rosalie

My dear beautiful boy,

The sweetness and heartache of watching you grow is almost too intense to bear. You will understand this someday: how your growing marks my growing too; your life making mine finite and fragile each day in a myriad of small ways. But for now you are content to ponder simpler things: bumble bees, and ice cream cones, the tick tock of the clock, the orbit of the fan’s blades.

Your life is the punctuation for mine. Sometimes is it like an ellipsis, certain precious moments with you stretch out forever across my heart. Like today with your first ice cream cone after you fell on the pavement and cut your face. Sitting in the evening sunlight outside under the giant oak, you watched me first as I liked my cone. Then your tongue followed, inquisitively, and then with eager pleasure, the sweet cream running down your chin and onto your shirt.

Other times, your growing feels like a parenthesis around my life, as things begin for you, other things end for me.

We’re just on the brink of weaning, you and I. And I keep waiting for the perfect time, caught up in the warp and weft of the bond that this act of sustenance has woven between us.

I never pictured nursing you even this long, and yet I have, going off of instinct and circumstance. And the circumstances haven’t been easy. This past month your molars came in. Four of them, and two more front teeth, all jostling through your gums at once, causing you to constantly seek the solace of my breast. Then there has been the problematic fact that we moved out of our apartment, and not into anywhere at the beginning of the month. You’ve tried hard to keep up with all the places we’ve been, but the changes have had their effect. You’ve started to cry often when we leave you with one or the other grandmother, and when you’re with me, like this week, you’d love to be ON TOP OF ME all the time, if you could. So I’ve put off weaning again and again, but I think we’re both at the point where we could be ready (maybe I am more than you.)

You’ve started drinking milk from your sippy cup this week—for the first time, and often now when I put you down for a nap in your crib, you’re wide awake and you put yourself to sleep. You nestle into the corner of your crib like a puppy and wake with the imprint of sheepskin on your face, your hair smelling of sleep.

We will most likely wean this month, after my mastitis clears up and we’re home in our new house. Though I’m ready—my body is starting to feel drained, and my sleep is restless at night because of you—a small corner of my heart harbors some sharp shard of sadness. A part of me I could never have related to or understood before I became a mother. The part of me that has so often since I had you, swallowed old words of judgment, finding my heart a softer place than I had known. When you nurse for the last time, you’ll not remember it. But I will. The solace of this intimacy we’ve shared will be forever contained. Like a parenthesis, joy filling up the space between it's beginning and it's ending.

Watching you explore the world makes my heart spill out about me like a melting popsicle, the sweetness of my love pooling at your feet. You run now. You climb incessantly, instinctively. You have incredible balance, navigating uneven surfaces with so much confidence. I watch you and I’m struck by how YOU, you are. You are determined, sympathetic, goofy, pensive, thoughtful, and curious, often in the span of a minute. You have your own fascinations, and inclinations. The other day I watched you dig in the dirt, and then seeing that the dirt had made your pants all messy, you brushed them off. This is something you didn’t learn from either parent, I can assure you.

You’ve begun talking this month, with more frequency, and giving sweet perfect kisses. You call sun glasses “goo goo goggles” after the character in Dr. Seuss on the page for the letter “G” and you say “tick tock” and “ding dong” with the a lovely little sing song intonation. You figured out how to blow bubbles—all yourself yesterday, and now you love to blow bubbles out in the yard, watching as the drift up into the sky, and when you’re hurt or tired you run to me, arms outstretched.

My arms are always outstretched towards you in return, my sweet boy.

All my love, Mama