We see this hour together often, and I know: it could be worse. Much worse. I whisper a quiet “thank you” to you for letting me catch up on some sleep. I think sleep might be my love language.
You’re wide awake. I’m half-asleep. I go through the motions: I nurse you and burp you, then swaddle you back up tightly, because you are without a doubt the busiest-bodied baby with the strongest startle reflex I’ve ever seen. (God? Please bless the inventor of the swaddle, especially the Velcro ones. Amen.)
You stop squirming for a second and lay completely still. With my lamp glowing in the dark, I see you look right at me. We lock eyes, and in that instant, my mechanical mommy autopilot is switched off and I’m human again. I smile silently at you, because I can’t not, and you grin back. Baby gums, dimples, squinty eyes and all.
My eyes are still tired, but now they’re alive. Bright.
I dogear that moment purposefully.
My motherhood story has so much that’s left to be written. Page after page of white space to fill. The stories will pile on top of each other; the milestones, the good days, the hard phases, and all the lessons we’ll both learn along the way. The glory and the gunk. The simple moments – often, the most beautiful. This is our story. The one about me and you and how we came to be a mother and a son.
These are the days, they tell you. And also: you’re going to miss this. I know they’re telling the truth. I doubt I’ll miss the way tears stream down your face as you scream in the backseat of my car, and I probably won’t long for the copious amounts of spit up that decorate your shirt and mine. Probably not. But those gummy 5am smiles? I will for sure miss those.
One day when my nest is empty and I thumb back through the whole collection, I know which stories I’ll come back to again and again: the ones with the corners carefully folded down, and I’ll remember. They are the ones I’ll read slowly and wistfully and think, those were the days. I’ll let the memories spin and blur and play in my mind like a merry-go-round. I won’t be on the ride anymore, but I’ll be watching from a distance, eyes bright and heart full.
And until then, I’ll bookmark every squinty-eyed smile you give me.
*All professional photos are (c) D Crowe Photography