In art, it’s called “negative space,” the space surrounding the subject where nothing terribly interesting happens, but rather works to frame said subject in the most flattering and artistic way. During my brief stint as an art minor in college (I never garnered enough credits to be an actual art minor), to me, the encompassing term “negative space” always seemed to spell the space around a person’s silhouette, the separation between the subject and the background, the line drawn from ear to elbow, the curve of one’s neck, the well dug by the collar bone, the curl of the shoulder.
In other words, it is the space that perfectly fits the fuzzy head of my daughter.
It is hard, nay, impossible, to believe that a whole three months (and two days) have gone by since she first popped out, all hellfire and alley cat, screeching indignantly at the unlucky dog who caught her unawares, yanking her from her bath water when she was clearly not done lather-rinse-repeating.
Three months (and two days) ago, I was holding her for the very first time, wondering how someone so little could hurt so much, both physically and emotionally, how gazing into her tiny face that very first time made my heart swell so thickly that it filled the room, how taking one breath, and then another, next to her new pink cheeks basically made me explode into a million pieces, like confetti for the birthday party we were having.
Back in June, when I was glaring at my husband through my smeared mascara, glaring at the nurse who had the audacity to ask me about hepatitis shots during the riptide of a contraction, or glaring at the clock and its audacity to keep ticking forward toward the next contraction when I just got over one, I had only one thought going through my head: I can’t do this.
And I was right.
I couldn’t. I can’t. And I won’t ever be able to.
I can’t handle her fuzzy head nuzzling into my shoulder as she slowly wakes up from a nap. I can’t handle her rosy cheeks, plump and squishy with a hidden dimple that appears only during her biggest smiles. I can’t handle her eyes, so much like mine, but prettier and more sparkly. I can’t handle her fingers that grip me, and search for me, even in sleep. I can’t handle her voice, her baby dinosaur voice, the way she’s trying it out, learning it, learning what to say and how it makes me react. I can’t handle her laugh, her scratchy squeal that stops suddenly when you laugh in return, as if she’s confused as to what is so funny. I can’t handle the smell, her smell, the sweet and intoxicating smell of baby lotion and clean diapers and new skin. I can’t handle that every single day is a new adventure for her, a new experience, a brand new world that she is learning to live in, and that one day, one twenty-four-hour period, is not nearly long enough for me to get my fill of ninety-four-day-old Bean before she is ninety-five days old.
I know, I know. I should have known better. It’s not like this is anything new.
I may not be getting the prescribed eight hours of sleep a night. I may never wear a bikini again. I may have to wait a decade or so for perfect peace and privacy in which to take a bubble bath. I may never again have stain-free carpet, or a crumb-free dining table, or a toothpaste-free bathroom sink.
And I will never again be able to shrink my heart back down to its factory size, all because of two little people who have stretched it beyond capacity in the brief time that I have known them. The little snots.