What we see and do

Art

One of the first things I started doing with S, once the weather was less crazy and he had some weeks of life under his belt, was go to museums. The first exhibit I took him to was of black-and-white photographs and paintings. He was still at the stage of saying “hello” by sticking out his tongue—and so he stuck his tongue out at every photo and painting we passed.

From early days, he showed an interest in art, especially black-and-white graphic images, of course (he can stare at the vertical blinds in the nursery for long moments because those bold, vertical lines draw him in). He does not fuss or cry at museums but looks and looks—in the early days from his perch in the gray floral sling I wore like a sash across my chest, and now from the bjorn carrier, facing out. The last museum I took him to had an all-black Warhol soup can painting, and each time we passed it, S would turn his head and consider it a little bit more than he did the other stuff. To him it is all color and light and shape, and the bolder the better. We then went and explored the sculpture-filled grounds, the little rusty metal robots and creatures and giant rectangles we could step through.

I know that he won’t be able to remember anything specific from now when he is older, but I believe that the experiences will still be in him, will still be part of who he is and who he becomes. The people smiling and talking to him, mama’s soft voice behind him narrating our way through the art, the air and the sunshine and the funny metal robots and the geese who ran away from us, squawking.

Walks

S and I started going for walks as soon as we possibly could, even in the crazy-cold weather. I bundled him up, and he was fine, my tough winter baby. I try not to fragilize S—even while I am highly attuned to every slight change in the way he is feeling. I think of us as an adventurous pair, and other moms remark on how chill he seems when out in the world, how easy he is to engage. These comments make me so happy. I want that for him. I want him to feel that the world is an interesting and comfortable place, one where it is enjoyable to interact with other people and take in all sorts of sights, sounds, scents, feelings—even when those sensations are a little surprising.

We have walked through towns. Through suburban streets. Through many different wooded areas. Along beaches. Along the streets of Brooklyn and Queens. Always, he is strapped to my chest, seeing what I see. I hold his little hands. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes he dozes. Sometimes he tries out all of the new sounds he is able to make.

When we are walking through our neighborhood, we stop every so often at the parked cars along the street and look at our reflection in the window. “There you are! And there’s mama,” I say. I bounce, and our reflection bounces. His eyes widen.

Walk to the Mound

There is a mound in the woods that I used to go to when I was pregnant and it was becoming increasingly clear that I was going to actually stay pregnant. I was so grateful that I thought I would burst and didn’t know what to do with myself.

I said to DH, “I want to literally want to kiss the ground.”

He said, “Then do it.”

So I did.

There is a mound in the woods behind our house with rocks and grass and moss on it. Not very high, just a little thing, and I would go there, bend down, and kiss its ground. I would say, “Thank you.” As time passed, it got harder to bend down, because my belly was getting so big. Toward the very end, it was difficult for me to walk that far out into the woods. I did go, though, at the very end of my pregnancy, to collect some rocks from the mound to take with me to the hospital, for good luck.

I’ve wanted to take my baby boy out there since he was born, but the snow was deep out there forever and ever.

The other day, though, we could go back there. And so we did. Around the path, through the sunshiney trees, and to the mound.

We sat down. He was on my lap, facing out. I hugged him from behind and tears came to my eyes. “Thank God for you,” I whispered, and felt my heart swell with an aching tenderness. I felt faint with love and gratitude. I squeezed him a little more, then turned him around, and he had that expression I love so much—the one of quiet contentment, slight smile, eyes bright.

Beautiful, beautiful boy.

Mirror

He can see himself and me in the mirror, now. Every morning, I take him to the bathroom mirror and say, “Say hi to the baby!” and he smiles, shyly, ducking his head, and then looking again, interested, smiling, sometimes grinning.

“Is that you? Is that mama?” Smile, head duck, look again. “Is that my baby boy? I love you!”

Stores

We go to the hardware store and buy philodendrons to replace all the ones that, er, kicked it when he was newborn and I couldn’t manage to water them. We go to Trader Joe’s or big groceries or small markets to get food for the family. We go to CVS to get formula and his acid reflux medicine. We’ve gotten good at shopping together. I say, “Ready to go on adventure?” I say, “Thanks for helping me, partner.” He says, in his way, No problem, Ma. He loves the motion, the people who go bananas over him, and I’m sure all of the new…the new, well, Everything.

Many times, we’ve gone to Barnes and Noble, where there are all the fun aisles and the music is usually pretty nice and relaxing, and Mama can get a coffee. I’ll put him the Bjorn, facing out, as I always do when we go to stores of any kind, and his little legs bounce and jiggle as we move through the store.

I often stop and spin in a circle, in the middle of an aisle. I dance, jiggle, sway, bop. People see me and laugh. At the magazine rack, I dance like a loon, keeping him entertained while I take quick looks at magazines.

He doesn’t like to stop, this little monkey. He likes to move, move, move, see, see, see, feel, feel, feel.

We went to B & N to get magazines to cut out pictures for the Manifestation Board I’m making in the living room. It has pictures of the skylines of all the cities and towns we’re interested in moving to (and where DH has applied for jobs), a beautiful wooden table (and the words “in the kitchen”), plants, gardens, tropical waters, active nightlife, farmer’s markets.

Yesterday, we went to a shoe store where there were lots of mirrors. At each mirror, I stopped and did the “Is that my baby right there?” He cracked up. That squeal of laughter! I could have stayed there for years. I never did get any shoes.

Moms and Babies

We go places and meet other moms and babies. We go to parks, or to gym classes, or to baby-yoga classes, or to the library for songs, dances, and stories.

S will often look right at the other babies and even reach out his hand to them. He seems equal parts interested and perplexed by what he sees.

I now have three other moms who are, as DH puts it, “kicking it to me.” He he. It has been so long since a person has actively pursued my friendship like this, and I am a bit rusty! It feels a little like dating.

At Home

Special times. Words fail me, really.

Baby boy on my lap, and the two of us just hanging out, playing with S’s feet, hands, arms, legs. He has taught me to become fascinated by the small things, the things I have taken for granted for decades. Have you noticed, for example, how amazing shadows are? S and I look at our shadows against the curtains of the nursery for ages.

We talk. He says “Bu” and “Gu” and “Ma,” and yesterday, he said, “Yeah!”(I say “Yeah!” to him all the time.) Today he said, “Ma-ma.” I know it is all random music-sounds to him, and that he might not say such things again for a long time, but I can’t tell you how surreal it is when those accidental “words” pop out. I stop short every time and just stare at him.

The past couple of days, he’s been eating a little bit of baby oatmeal cereal out of bowl, with a spoon. He makes a face like, What is this, what’s happening? But then he slowly gets the hang of it and swallows down a microscopic amount. He’s so happy when I squeal my hoorays. His face breaks open into the warmest smile, globs of oatmeal on his chin.

We do a lot of playing. I lift him up and kiss him from belly button to mouth to forehead, and he laughs. I turn him around and kiss him all the way up his back. We could do this all day long and never tire of it.

I put the soles of his little feet up to my mouth and zerbert them.

I hold out a rattle and he grasps it with one hand. I hold out an O Ball and he grasps it with the other. He shakes the rattle and gnaws on the O Ball. And then he goes, “Buuuhhoooooo, buuuhhhoooo,” drooling.

Most days I put him in his crib or the Rock and Play for his naps, while I take care of stuff, but there are plenty of days when I rest with him. Not usually during his morning nap (although I did some serious snuggling with him this morning during his nap) but sometimes in the afternoon or early evening, I will just cozy up with him on the couch. I know right now that I will miss this so much. It’s like I’m already feeling the nostalgia as it is happening—my little birdie snoozing in my arms, or over my shoulder, and we rest. Just rest. His sweet, warm little body pressed against me. The scent of him, like no other scent in the world. The feel of his soft cheek and the rhythmic sound of his breath, so close to my ear.

Must get going, so I’ll leave it there for now.

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7 Comments

  1. So sweet that I cried into my bowl of lentils I am eating for lunch here at work. I love the naps together. My son is nearly 14 months and I still sneak naps with him sometimes. I love to wear him out in the world too. We’re going to the first farmer’s market of spring today after I leave work. I’m so glad you are enjoying him. The early days were hard, but now, it’s just the best, isn’t it?

    Reply
  2. I love this. You are a fantastic mother

    Reply
  3. This is amazing. And omg, I thought I was the only person on the planet (besides my parents) who uses the term zerbert!

    Reply
  4. Beautiful. So beautiful! And that mound…I remember that mound from your previous posts. How beautiful to bring your little guy to this sacred place and feel that amazing gratitude. My heart just swelled up with this post!

    Reply
  5. I got teary thinking of you on that mound. A full circle kind of moment for sure. I love reading about the things you do with S and your love for him.

    Reply
  6. California mom

     /  April 10, 2015

    This is so awesome. I’m so happy for you.

    Reply

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