Lately, Col’s been infected with a bout of what we call around here snuggle fever.
He climbs on my lap while I’m making out with my coffee and newspaper; he whispers, at 6:02 a.m.: “The most important part of having a Mommy is loving her”; he Titanics into the iceberg of my hips when I’m cooking, thrusting his arms up – toddler-style – for me to lift him up. And I do.
Today, I held him close and patted his back, pretending to burp him, which was one of the high-level, advanced parenting skills taught to us in the neonatal intensive care unit.
When Col graduated to the Feed and Grow room after three months in Acute Care, I was cleared to try and nurse him once a day (each time was like hearing my name called at the Oscars. “Rachel Turiel, please step up and address the audience of your 4-pound boy with your engorged breast,” which is to say I was thrilled and nervous). After our nursing attempt, I’d pass him to Dan, who would execute such skillful thumps on Col’s tiny back that the emergent burps were like symphonies choreographed by a grand conductor.
This sounds like hyperbole, I know, but really, these visits to the hospital were the sun that the planet of my motherhood orbited for months.
The notion then that this bitty baby could be turning 8 was like pondering another galaxy, one devoid of the most ordinary things, like say, gravity and oxygen settings.
And holy moly, here we are. Eight.
And, oh, how I miss that rounded, wordless baby whose wide blue eyes tracked me like air-traffic control monitoring a plane coming in; or that funny, energetic toddler who’d burst into the living room, announcing gleefully “Uh oh! Uh oh!” because he’d sneakily flipped on his space heater (the best part of which was outing himself); or that 5-year-old who told me matter-of-factly “Rosie’s new thing to get what she wants is just to grab you.” And then was corrected by 3-year old Rose: “I only do that to you, Coley.”
But really, I don’t want to go back in time, I like now best. I just want more “now.” I’d yank the needle off the spinning record of our lives if I could, just to bask in the warmth of snuggle fever a little longer – but not for too long because I already see that it keeps getting better. I just didn’t want parenting to go quite so fast.
Not because it’s easy (easy! ha!), but because witnessing the growth and evolution of a child is exquisite. To love and be loved unconditionally is both like being encased in protective armor and having it shatter daily because it’s the most tender, vulnerable skin you’ll ever wear.
Happy birthday to a beautiful, creative, bright, evolving, 8-year-old boy.
Reach Rachel Turiel at firstname.lastname@example.org.Visit her blog, 6512 and growing, on raising children, chickens and other messy, rewarding endeavors at 6,512 feet.