"The moon, Mama!" / by Christina Rosalie

The smell of chocolate cake baking makes me heady. My friend’s birthday is this weekend, and I’ve spent the evening whipping frothy egg whites, melting dark chocolate and licking my fingers.

The house is quiet, in that way houses get at the end of the day when everything is put in it’s place and children are asleep. Outside an orchestra of insects trill, and across the room The Piano soundtrack plays. I haven’t heard it since high school, when I loved it with a sort of moody passion. Finding it again, the same feeling rises up. The drama and cinematic artistry of the movie moved me to tears, and the music still manages to slip into the small open places in my soul, in a way that begs for solitude and intimacy both.

The past few days have been filled with sun drinking and wave kicking; long enough away from home to miss it. And it has also been one of those milestone weeks for Bean, who has taken to everything here with wide-eyed wonder: the lizards with their bright red throats, the delicate hibiscus, the sleek bellied otter, the ocean’s waves, the shells, the snakes, the endless sand.

I find myself staring at him (like I always seem to,) trying to mark in my head exact moments: the way he knelt on a big chair at the table, and ate couscous all by himself with a spoon last night; how he ran wildly, willfully, eagerly down the shore towards a flock of rosy-legged ibis today, carefree and confident that we would follow; or how tonight, getting ready for bed, he kept pressing his small palms to my lips for kisses, and then turned them so I could kiss the backs of his hands, and then his wrists and elbows. Over and over again he wanted this ceremony of affection, and over and over again I complied, my heart filling with a feeling beyond sweetness, beyond sorrow, beyond joy, but made up of all three.

I used to feel entirely one with him---the border between his self and mine, a mere distinction of skin. But now he has started to really become his own self---choosing to ignore me when I call him, fighting to do things without help, or asking for things with specificity and intention.

Each week, each month as a mother, it is necessary to learn a new choreography of love. And now in this dance there is a delicate space between us; space that he fills with his giddy twirling, his wild happy limbs, his smile, his troubled pensive frowns, and his many new words.

“Moon, mama!” he says now, pointing up at the sky. And there it is, the moon bright and clear, against the evening blue. I feel my heart skip a momentary beat in wonderment: he has just claimed the moon for his own, for the very first time.