Three years ago this evening, our dear friends were bringing us take-out Thai food. Sweet Husband and I had made a pact beforehand not to tell a soul when I finally went into labor. I had endured a month of "Is that baby here yet?" and I couldn't stand the thought of possibly hours of labor going the same way.
But our friends could be trusted, and they were nearby, and rice was the only food I could wrap my head around keeping down.
I only have the one experience of birth to draw from, of course, but the details I remember are funny to me now. I know I retreated to our big, cast iron tub more than once that night, but was downright angry that the water wouldn't stay warm. I remember the candle flickering on my dresser as I tried to sleep between waves. I remember the release when we finally went to the birthing center and our midwife put a hot pad on my back. I remember sincerely not caring what I looked like or who I peed in front of.
But I can't remember what I thought the first time I saw him. I can't remember who I thought he'd be. Maybe there just weren't coherent words.
We were taking a long time getting out of bed the other morning, when he flopped his head on the pillow next to me and giggled. He has my asymmetrical eyes, poor thing, but they crinkle up like his dad's when he laughs.
For the first time, though, I noticed the way little furrows form at the top of his nose when he's thinking. It's not an expression that I readily recognized as belonging to either me or Sweet Husband, and it brought to forefront a new observation that's been percolating as I've watched him these past few months.
Had I been able to form coherent thoughts at his birth, I think I would have assumed that everything in him would come from one of us. Thus far, that's been the pattern. Mad verbal skills--me. Love of all things mechanical--Sweet Husband. Blonde hair--both of us.
But that teeny nose crinkle reminded me that he's not just parts of us mashed together. A little more everyday, he's himself--a boy who lives for trains, loves stories, and insists on making his own way through the snow.
More surprising still--although maybe it shouldn't be--I like this somewhat unknown boy he's becoming. I like him an awful lot.
I like hearing about the boxcar of spilled pickles that he's worried about. (Fragment of a dream, maybe?) I glow when he says silly-but-sorta-profound things. ("You can love me if you want to, mama.") I can't imagine our family without the bit of goofiness he now brings. (Often by running though the house nekkid, singing songs at the top of his lungs.)
Being his mama is like watching some fascinating, unique species of flower bloom. I have no idea what color it's going to be. I have no idea what shape the petals might end up. I have no idea what fragrance might emanate. (That last one may be both literal and metaphorical.) But not for all the fame or money in the world could I turn away without finding out.
Happy Birthday, Monkey!