Sprout is six months old. Already. I feel a lump at the back of my throat when I write those words. When I think of him, the space inside my ribcage hardly feels big enough to contain the feeling I have for him: like a thousand rainbow helium balloons all lifting, lifting skyward.
I want to record every moment with him because every one is fleeting, but I haven’t. There are pictures, yes, but only a few quickly scribbled notes here and there that mark the passing of his babyhood —because the truth is this: I am greedy with my time with him.
I want every single moment to last.
I want the smell of him forever: soft, inexplicably sweet; the essence of these baby days when we’re curled together in the morning before our little world wakes up and the day begins, a ruckus of matchbox cars and giggles from Bean; a hot shower; the espresso grinder running.
I want to be able to forever feel the roundness of his soft darling belly, like a little fat moon when he stretches out.
I want the way he smiles at me—like I am the moon, the sun, everything at once—to go on for eternity every single time.
This has been the gift of my second son. He has allowed me to slow down and linger in these moments of early motherhood. Instead of writing about him, as I did with Bean (when I was always anxious for the next phase and in need of reassurance) I curl around him after I’ve scooped him up from a nap.
He nurses, then grins up at me and smacks his lips with satisfaction and I whisper to him, leaning close until my lips brush his babysoft cheek. I whisper about how I love him until he falls back asleep for a few perfect moments, a smile playing on his lips.
He is impossibly sweet. He spends every day grinning at everyone. He nap, he sleeps at night, he waits patiently for food, or a diaper change. He is content to play on the floor or in a laundry basket, or anywhere—as long as it is near me, or his big brother. He has just learned to sit. He is starting to crawl.
This second boy of mine has taught me something I never imagined I would learn: to mother with a kind of grace that first-time motherhood cannot afford.
I have learned that the laundry can wait, and that the dishes and bowls and pots in the sink will return to their state of clean or dirty regardless of whether I do them first, or often, or last. What matters most are kisses.
I have learned how to wait a beat before reacting with panic or frustration when he begins to cry juuust before going to sleep, and in that moment of pause I take a breath and can see how he feels this. How his body becomes soft and relaxed. How sleep comes if I give it a moment.
I have also learned that baths aren’t as essential as maybe I believed they were, and that pajamas are overrated—whatever onsie and pants he has on will do; and that making baby food is not complicated, and that with a food processor anything is possible.
I couldn’t have imagined this. I remember thinking that there was no way that I would really love him as much as I loved his brother. It was a real concern of mine. I imagined that my heart would be too small. That there wouldn’t be room in it after all the love I already had for my lanky-limbed Bean. I imagined feeling stretched, overdrawn. I didn’t believe there would be space to spare anywhere in my heart for loving some other little boy too. But oh, how I love, I love him, I love him.