As I sit in the rocking chair, I look down at my hands.
One lays across my baby’s upper back, the other cups his feet, my wrist giving his diapered bottom a place to rest. He fits comfortably in the space between my shoulders and hips, legs frogged up in the most enduring of positions, one I know he’ll return to again and again throughout his life.
And I become aware, suddenly, of what we’d look like if someone appeared in the doorway and snapped our picture.
It occurs to me that his face—right now so definitive, so him, as familiar to me as my own—only contains traces of the boy he will become—of the man that he’s headed towards being. That, if this picture was snapped, you’d squint and look again and eventually find some familiarity. Maybe his nose will remain the same. Or his eyes.
This boy I know and love, that I grew and continue to grow, is so familiar and understood; almost an extension of me.
And yet, he’s not.
Who he will be is a mystery. Like his physical features, I know I’ll look back at the personality he showed, so young, and find just little traces of the boy and man he’ll grow into.
If someone snapped this picture, who knows what I would someday recognize in him—or remember in me.
Because he’s growing up, and he’s not the only one. I wonder, if this picture was snapped right now, would he someday look at it, squinting to find the traces of the me he knows?
The double-edged sword is this: the more we grow up, the more we move away from moments like these, face-to-face and heart-to-heart at 2 a.m.
The impact of that sudden truth gives me a rare peace with the moment that is now—no fixation on the fact that I’d rather be sleeping, or reflection on the constraints motherhood brings.
These middle-of-the-night wake-ups, these feverish teething-baby moments, these rocking-chair snuggles, will someday feel so distant and full of love. I can already almost feel the ache for moments when this boy of mine would fit here, head on my shoulder, feet in my lap, in the complete comfort and peace that comes from curling up on his momma.
It hits me: we get to be that, now. Right now is one of those moments where I’ll know we were both young, both growing, both becoming—together.
He shifts and awakens, pulling his thumb from his mouth to turn and look up at me. I realize I’ve stopped rocking. But I take a few seconds to memorize his beautiful face, just as it is right now. He smiles his big toothy smile. Everything else can change, I think, but that’s what I hope never changes. The size and ease and depth of our smiles. And I start to rock again.