Snow is falling again, though last week the grass started to show, barely green, in muddy patches in the yard. The temperatures were in the fifties and the creek running through the meadow down our road, was swollen with snowmelt, its blue-black water spreading out across the snowy expanse of buried grass like a bruise. Now, theyâ€™re calling for three feet of snowâ€”tonightâ€”and the mud on the driveway is frozen in stiff tracks.
More snow means more days spent clambering into boots and mittens in our slate-floored entryway, which is interminably heaped with outer things, jackets hanging three deep on every hook. It means more fights with you about wearing your fire-engine-red snowsuit; more pell-mell chases around the living room to capture you, half squealing with delight, half wailing in frustration. It means the mourning doves and starlings and jays and chickadees that you delight to watch gathering at our feeder by the dozens, will huddle tonight in the pines, heads tucked deep into the downy warmth of their bodies. It means that spring, certain in itâ€™s coming, is still not here.
Do you remember spring, little one? Do you remember how the dandelions plunge up from the verdant green, like a thousand bright yellow suns across our lawn? How suddenly in the span of a month buds are everywhere, and throngs of insects, and the shrill, vibrant chorusing of peepers in the swamps?
We bought you a new pair of red rubber ladybug boots today, because mud season is just around the corner, and though you havenâ€™t truly experienced it yet, mud is certain to become one of your favorite things.
Tonight the wind whips around the north corner of the house, howling, low and soft. Upon hearing it earlier, you looked up with wide eyes, and said, â€œDaddy, what dat?â€ Now youâ€™re snug in your crib, curled on your sheepskin wearing red stripped pajamas, and weâ€™re hoping youâ€™ll sleep till morning, but the past few weeks have been iffy in this department.
Sleep deprivation is by far the worst part of being a parent. It feels a little being pushed up against the chain-link fence by the bully at school; the lunch-money quarters smooth and round in your closed fist, unwillingly and suddenly exposed. You have no choice. You give them up because thatâ€™s what being asked of you; because if you give in quickly, the way your hair is being pulled and the way the back of your neck is being pinched by the silver chinks of fence will likely ease. For now.
When you cry at night there is nothing we can do except reply; go, be there with you as you squirm about, sleepy and disoriented, calling, â€œMama, Daddy, where are you?â€
Then you say, your nose snuffly because youâ€™re sick, â€œNeed a hug. NEED A HUG.â€ So we go. We hug you. We take turns, feeling the cold creep up our legs, and a splintering ache begin at the backs of our eyes. We take turns rocking and singing, coaxing you to sleep. Begging you. Or sometimes, when weâ€™re so sleep-stupored and staggering, we carry you to our bed, where inevitably you sleep perpendicular to both of us, thrashing, your feet in my jugular, your head pressed firmly into the crook of Daddyâ€™s neck.
The past few months youâ€™ve woken up more often at night, and I think itâ€™s because you have energy left to burn. Your wiry little body was made to run. Some days, when the thermometer doesnâ€™t pass zero, you donâ€™t get outside at all, and running around the house leaves something to be desired and many things out of place.
This month of winter after your birthday, has also brought delight by the spoonfuls. The world of imaginative play has suddenly opened wide for you, and you play with blocks and cars, building houses and navigating to stores that sell only chocolate and ice cream for breakfast (you little scamp.)
And we read.
We sit snug on the tan couch in the living room, your body pressed against mine. It is the same tan couch I lay on in Connecticut when the midwife first pressed her Doppler stethoscope to my belly and we heard your heartbeat fast and strong like a rushing flurry of wings. Now we sit on it together and read, book after book, you pointing everything out in the pictures and turning the pages, me reading aloud the same stories again and again until Iâ€™ve nearly committed to memory every line of your favorites. You love stories now, not just identification books, or books with simple verses. You attend to the characters, and get anxious when they are trouble and laugh with glee when something silly or funny happens. You count, you sing, you talk. All the time.
I canâ€™t wait to spend spring with you. To hear what you have to say about taking hikes in our woods and digging with wooden spoons in the mud. I canâ€™t wait plant a garden with you and to order baby chicks in the mail. Youâ€™re such a cool kid now, talking in complete sentences; talking a blue streak. You ask why and what and when a zillion times.
Even when Iâ€™m exhausted, I canâ€™t wait to spend every single day with you.