My baby is two. Not really a baby any more, but she still lets me hold her, still wraps her little self around me and sticks her thumb in her mouth, a perfect sense of comfort and trust.
I will never have another child as tiny as she is today. She will only continue to pull away, to establish herself, independent from her mother who, two years ago, held her for the very first time.
She’s only two. She has no great expectations for her birthday. Her brother told her there would be cake, and there will be. Maybe some pasta for dinner because that is her favorite. Today every birthday surprise is a completely new experience for her. She doesn’t know she gets presents. She doesn’t know that it’s her special day. When her brother and I came into her room singing today her face lit up like the sunshine with unabashed delight.
Every birthday is bittersweet when you become a mom. The pride of beholding your beautiful growing child, the relief of adding another years maturity after tantrums and diapers have worn your down, the anticipation of all the great things your child has to experience in the coming year for the first time, these things swell up in your chest, bursting wit joy and love, and yet those tiny fingers can now hold a crayon, write a name, paint a landscape, rewire a toaster, and then one day they are the same size as your own fingers, or even enclose your whole hand in theirs.
I am not a baby person. Babies scare the hell out of me. But my babies, as terrifying as they were, are sorely missed. They way they slept on my chest, the laughs, the soft skin.
I read a quote a while back on the internet that stuck to my heart like a briar. I’m paraphrasing it here.
“One day your parents put you down and never picked you up again.”
My son is a big boy, just turned five, but since reading that I try not to groan and beg off when he asks me to pick him up so he can look into the sauce pan to see what’s for dinner. When he scraped his knee the other week I picked him up and carried him the rest of the walk home. He’s so big, it should be awkward, but it isn’t yet. There’s so little time left, but I can still pick him up, still hold him on my hip for a minute.
And my daughter, well she wants to “walk walk walk!” as she screams when I carry her across a busy parking lot. But she still comes to me, particularly when I am in the middle of cleaning or cooking or just extremely exhausted and reaches her little hands up to me and says, “Mommy, I need you!”
She doesn’t say “Pick me up, although that is what she means.”
Mommy, I need you.
It won’t always be to be held, but please let her and my son always need me, just a little bit.
Because I will always need them.
Happy Birthday to my September babies.