I realized this as I watched him sleep last night, his hair matted gently over his ear.
It's long in the back, and its blond wisps sometimes fall in front of his eyes, but I can't cut it, not yet.
It's his baby hair: mossy, fresh, and oh-so delicate and wistful.
And if I cut it, he might grow up too fast.
I'm superstitious like that.
I know, I know. I have no control over any of this. He will grow up. No matter how I hold onto him. No matter how long I let his hair grow.
I remember when I was first pregnant with him, three years ago now, in the deep cold of January.
I was petrified. I really was. A panic that spread throughout my body.
I loved my first child so singularly. It was a supreme love, a kind of love I had never felt for another human being before.
I waited for five years to have another child—that is how vast and consuming my love for my first child felt.
I was convinced that I couldn't love another child the way I loved my firstborn. Everyone told me I would—that there was enough love to go around—but I didn't believe them.
The initial shock of his body growing in mine waned, but the pregnancy was still tinged with fear. Fear of love. Fear of having enough room in my heart for another child.
Oh, but he insisted himself into my heart. As soon as he was born, with his large, wondrous eyes, I fell for him. Hard.
His eyes said, “Here I am. There is nothing to be afraid of. I was meant for you.”
Yes, he was. There was no other word that popped into my head besides “familiar.” He felt familiar to me, like I'd always known him.
My love for him wasn't extra; I didn't need to open myself up to him. I realized right away that my love for him was the same love I felt for my first son. There was this endless pool of son love I had in me. An ocean, a pulsing, flowing universe of boy-child love.
He had been there the whole time, in my heart, waiting. But I hadn’t believed it.
Maybe that disbelief is why I am so reluctant to cut his hair, why something as insignificant as whether to do it next week or next summer feels so significant to me.
I don't want to lose the familiar in him. The earthy, newborn scent I savor any chance I get.
And you know what? I won't cut it, at least for a while. Let it fall in front of his eyes. Let those small, feathered fingers brush it away. Let my heart swell just a few more seasons as I gaze at that lit mop of gold hair.
Who cares if I cling, just a bit, to his babyhood?
He taught me to relax into love, to trust it implicitly. And I want to stay here with him a little while longer. To melt into his soft, easeful love—inhaling, exhaling, and inhaling some more.