Monday, February 18, 2013
Happy Ten Months, Joy Boy.
For whatever reason, coming home to Los Angeles has messed with your internal clock worse than did the whole time "home" in Hawai'i. It really was more than we could hope for, how easily you slid into a different time zone, different homes, and so many different arms, all eager to hold you. Such a disruption of our usual routines; naptimes and bedtimes and like-clockwork twice-daily disco-nap car rides all askew. You took all in stride--ready, it seemed, at every moment to be delighted. Our joy boy.
But now, coming home to this home, fitting back into this life, it seems to pain you. You've been having the crossest spell, and part of me--the part given to romantic notions--chalks it up to feeling your roots being hyperextended. You knew your grandparents, remembered and loved all three of them, from the newborn time, from the couple brief visits that followed, from all that FaceTime. You really knew. You went into their embraces like you'd been doing it daily. You went into the ocean's arms as readily--easily, eagerly, without fear--more than once despite the fact that the water was cold and the sky growing dusky. Despite the fact that it was your first time in anything bigger than a bathtub or a womb.
But another part of me realizes it is just a lot of change to expect a ten-month-old to handle well. (Hell, it was a lot to expect a 32-year-old to handle well, too.) This practical part of me sees your recent moodiness as a sort of social hangover, if you will.
Either way, it has meant that especially now that you are walking, you are literally step-for-step with me all day. In the kitchen while I prep our meals, you crawl in your crooked-fast way, all the way murmuring "mamamamamamamama" till you reach me, then pull yourself to a stand like a vine up my legs, entwining your arms tight and forcing your head between them. "Mamamamamamamamamama" becomes more insistent, more plaintive, until I give up on chopping, on boiling, on rushing to finish anything and sit humbly on the kitchen floor, rest willingly in this moment, allowing you to jungle-gym yourself upon me, to rub your head against my neck, to take my hand until we are both crawling or walking a lap of the first floor. Along the way, you find something more interesting and eventually I finish making our breakfast or lunch, but it has been a good lesson in being present and having realistic expectations of the day. I used to be a master multitasker--my To Do Lists were prioritized, had subpoints, and were colorcoded for maximum efficiency. Now I have a list in my iPhone with items months overdue, and I just can't be bothered. Not even to always get paid or pay my bills, it's terrible. I just take my antidepressant daily, feed us and Nahe twice, take you and Nahe for an afternoon stroll, get us to some sort of outing (a class, the library, the play gym, a walk along the water), and if I can edge in there a shower or a bath for you, that day has been a colossal win. [ED. NOTE: It has been ten months, people. This is what I can just now manage. Let this be your reminder for birth control.]
But getting back to my point, Waika ... you've been especially disturbed these few days home. You who I've deemed my joy boy, you've been unusually and therefore noticeably fussy, cranky, whiny. I can be sitting right by you, and all of a sudden it's not enough, you must be in my arms. You've not slept through the night since we returned--waking so fully that you stand and rage from the bars of your crib at midnight, or 4 am, or 11pm, or all of the above. I relent and relent and relent, bringing you to bed with us where you proceed to bite down so hard while nursing you leave toothmarks in my nipples. You toss and flip and fuss and kick and sweat profusely until finally you find sleep--more often than not with your butt in the air, your torso horizontal across the bed, and your head in my armpit. I teeter on the edge of the bed unwilling to move for all it took to get you settled, and also because something needs to blockade you from the bed's edge--and a pillow no longer cuts it.
Tonight it is just after 11 that you wake along in your crib in the dark and rise to protest it. I hope for a few minutes that you will settle back down, but in the strange night-vision glow of the monitor I see you standing, squinting at the light seeping in from the door, hear you begin to squall louder and louder. I sigh and head upstairs, fumbling in the dark for you. In my arms, you quiet, nestling your head into my neck. In mere minutes, your breathing again is regular, the rise and fall of your back against my hand rhythmic and slow. Your breath is warm against my skin, sour-sweet and milky. Your hair is damp with sweat, but to me you smell wonderful. You are calmed, and I could probably put you back down in your crib, but for now I sway and sway, cherishing the smallness of you, which slips daily through my fingers like sand. I cradle your sweaty head close, even though it makes you stir a little. Our heartbeats and breaths align. Ten months, my baby boy. You have now been out in the world for longer than you were inside me. You are so long and sturdy and strong and your feet so big that it's hard to recall you at 6 lbs, 6 oz, and less when you dropped some of your birth weight that first week and we were so worried that you weren't getting enough milk. But though the ways in which you could once be contained within me are long gone, still we click together like a puzzle. Your legs lock about my waist, your crown into my collarbone, the lei of your arms so sweetly encircles my neck.
I could put you down so that we both could get some sleep, but instead I hold you. I am present. I sway, I sit, I rock, and I cherish.