Coming up to this month I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of being your mother.
I’m aware that this is probably a tenuous sensation, like thinking I’ve finally got the gist of semicolons, or finally know how to reattach the wireless router when our internet connection bites the dust. The whole of the me-mother-you-son playing field will shift and change and reset itself mysteriously and without warning, probably for the rest of our lives.
But for this moment of this month I feel as if I really know you; when you’re tired or you’re hungry or you just want to kick Mr Caterpiller’s stripy butt.
Mr Caterpiller is your current favourite Stuffed Friend. Your previous fave was Jingly Cow but soon after we got back from our big road trip around the state you dropped him like a fat stinky nappy.
I’m a little sad on behalf of the bovine, the two of you seemed such firm friends for the whole of that three weeks. He dangled and jingled and you laughed and burbled. He did his special medley of cow-centric show tunes as we made our torturous way through Melbourne traffic during one particularly special day and you, cranky as all get out, fixed him with your Evil Eye and your pouting lower lip, just daring him to stop.
Sing, damn you, you clinking four-stomached ruminant, sing! you seemed to be saying, and so he did right through The Sound Of Music (High on a hill lived a lonely Cow-herd, moo moo moo moo moo moo moo moo-oo), The Rocky Horror Picture Show(Toucha toucha toucha touch me, I want to be milky…), Godspell (Prepare Ye The Way Of The Cow) and Jesus Christ Superstar (Jesus Christ! Super Cow! If you were a dog then you’d say Bow Wow).
And then Mummy collapsed in a heap.
Now it’s all about Mr Caterpiller and his 60cm of crackly, stripy, squashable body parts.
He used to be longer than you but now you’ve caught up and also you’re much thicker than him, not that wrestling is all about who’s taller and fatter. You like to grab him as he hangs off your playgym and then you wrestle his caterpillar arse into the ground.
Your eyelashes are grown quite long and gorgeous and so I’m filled with both admiration and deep envy and you have become the Master Of The Wry Smile, often employed as you ‘posset’ yet again over my clothes or your father sings Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (the Pitjantjatjara version).
At 4 months I am much more aware of how dangerous the world is for tiny wee folk like yourself.
When you were smaller you weren’t aware of the Outside World, you were curled up and cosy in our skins. But now you see the sunlight flickering against the curtains while you feed and you break off (often with my nipple still in your mouth) and marvel at the light and why we still haven’t put up proper curtains despite it being nearly a year in the Big House and the whole hilarious nature thing.
Birds! Leaves rustling in the breeze! Flies!
You reach up and adjust my bra strap or finger the fabric of my singlet top and muse on the strange way cotton is Good because it is so light and breathable yet Evil because as a crop it sucks up so much water.
At this point, one of the greatest dangers to yourself seems to be us, your loving parents.
While we were away you and your father had a special bonding experience. He was holding you in his arms as he shook lemons from the tree and inevitably one fell on your head. It scared you but it scared your father more. I think you both cried. I was in the shower at the time and he didn’t tell me about it for another few hours, all the while “monitoring” you (yay St John’s first aid course).
Later, back at home, I left you on your tummy on the bed, with pillows on each side, as I flittered about trying to clean up the disaster that is our bedroom. I could hear you making protesting noises and I could see you had propped yourself against a pillow but I waited till I had rolled all our socks (because that’s essential, that rolled sock thing, crucial) before I picked you up. Surprise… your arm had gone almost blue.
We feel terrible about these things and we confess them to each other in shocked whispered voices and then we laugh derisively at how horrible and incompetent we are.
When we tell our stories to other parents they nod and then confess their terrible stories; the ill hung mobiles suddenly falling with pointy precision and the chasing of toddlers under prickly vines with a baby in the backpack.
I am reliably told that the most common accident for babies of your age is “father throwing baby in air and failing to catch”.
You forgive us constantly. When we drive for six hours and you sit alone in your car seat facing the back window, nothing to look at but hard blue sky, nothing to listen to but your parents singing Hits From The 80’s. When we get our timing arse about and have you out too late at night or forget to carry a spare change of clothes and you’re forced to wear an emergency crumpled dry sick singlet.
When we drop lemons on your head.
You give so much to us. It’s amazing that this could be so when you are still small (but heavy!) and wake me twice a night (not that I’m complaining) to feed and you don’t even have an email account but it’s true.
You press against us when we pick you up and you smile and blow spitty bubbles in our direction and we feel as if we’ve won the Lotto. It’s like magic to see your father’s mood change when he’s been dealing all day with idiots on the phone and feels stressed and anxious about work. If he picks you up when you’re crying, or need a nappy change or best of all when you have just woken, he can’t help but smile.
When someone you love dies and you emerge from that experience, shaken and transformed, you know how precious time is and how important it is to love each other, to be kind to each other.
And when someone you love is born, it’s the same thing.
The truth is, I know that I can’t protect you from the Outside World (although I can prioritise you over the socks) just as I can’t really fix our Wireless Router (it was a fluke) nor properly; place; semicolons;
But I do know that you encourage us to strive more, to care more, to love more.
You make us want to be better people. And we fail of course, over and over, but any time we despair or despise, if we feel depressed or downtrodden, we look at you and see in your eyes and in your face all the potential, the hope, all the Good in our lives renewed.
Fresh. Clean. Forgiven.
And on we go through the lemon infested minefield that is our life together.
Thankyou for these past four months.
Your very own