Day 1, The First: You had your own agenda, even from conception. You were unexpected, the gift despite our fallibilities, the consequence of our indiscretions, the reward in spite of our explicit ineptitude, the bright, bold, glorious silver lining. You came quickly and easily, you made your presence known, you shook the foundation of my limited understanding of unconditional love. You changed me, inside and out, physically and emotionally, mentally and spiritually, daily and eternally.
Day 2, The Experience: I never thought two people could experience so much in just one year’s time. You learned so much in your first year of life, and you taught me even more. You learned to smile, I learned that the English language is incapable of expressing the emotion of the human heart. You learned to roll over, I learned there isn’t enough film in the world to capture you accurately or sufficiently. You learned to crawl, I learned I cannot fuse you to my hip by sheer longing and willpower. You learned to speak, I learned the feeling of knowing my identity and my purpose so strongly and steadfastly. You learned to walk, I learned the heart can shatter into a million pieces just to find itself mended within your sticky palm forever.
Day 3, The Separation: At two years old, you were confident and intelligent, knowing the certainty of me while testing your separate self. You knew what it meant to be near me each minute of everyday, an arrangement we both thrived on. You understood my permanence, you sensed my tangency, you needed more. After two years of devoted attention, you experienced sharing and separation and absence and reuniting. You bloomed, more eagerly than I did, more openly than I showed. You were becoming more of yourself, while I experienced the loss of a limb.
Day 4, The Growth: From daycare to preschool, you made the transition more flawlessly than I anticipated, a hint to the man you will one day grow to be. We spent our days apart. You learned from child development majors the alphabet and how high you could count and how things are spelled and proper manners, I learned how to exist outside of myself as Mom, how to converse without baby talk, how to be both a mother and an employee, how to be efficient, how to be present. You made friends, I made friends, friends who, to this day, remain. Our sphere grew larger together, apart.
Day 5, The Newness: We moved from the home you spent the first three years of your life in, a small, warm apartment, to our first house, a larger, shinier building with empty walls, new carpet, and the smell of fresh paint, a place where the dents and the stains and the nail-holes will testify to ever more growth. You celebrated your birthday here, your fourth, its first, and the memories began to build and pulse. I cried when I turned in the apartment key, despite my big talk that I couldn’t wait to get out of that tiny hole, despite my new blank slate of a house with my personal taste and touches. I cried because our new house would not be the place you first crawled or walked, the carpet would be far too white without sippy cup stains, your bedroom, painted red as you requested, will never be the room where I rocked you back to sleep, nestled small and tight in the shape of my embrace.
Day 6, New World: A spot or two of chipped paint, where you threw a light saber or a Hot Wheel against the wall, and dust beneath the couch, the walls no longer bare, the carpet no longer pristine. Another year of memories, some that haunt, but most that hint to a house and family full of laughter, a group of people who enjoy one another thoroughly and without hesitation. Another backyard barbecue to celebrate your birthday, with family and friends, friends you learned to say goodbye to, as you scattered across the city to different schools. You learned what it meant to be prepared for Kindergarten, you prepared yourself for the big day, you came with a new disclaimer that you have epilepsy, you are unstoppable.
Day 7, New Identity: You made new best friends. You received a Kindergarten education with flying colors. You learned to read and write and count with ease. You run until you pass out, you talk incessantly, you love so generously, you are a big brother. The memories we created together from the past six years, many of just the two of us, grew even richer as we relived them through your little sister. As my firstborn, you made it easy. As your father’s son, you are curious and energetic. As a student, you are ideal. As a big brother, you are a natural. You are protective. You are smitten. You are inspiring.
Day 8, New Heartbreak: Today, seven years old as of 5:49am, you are heartbreaking. Seven years celebrated in eight twenty-four hour periods, and that is just not sufficient. You continue to grow smarter, faster, wiser, more independent, more separate, and I am helpless to stop it, or even slow it down. I am altogether depressed as I remember the tiny baby you used to be, glued to my hip, wary of anyone and anything that didn’t have my scent, didn’t have my touch, and elated as I think of the man you are well on your way of becoming, the greatness instilled in you, the goodness and purpose and confidence that transcend anything I could have taught you, the essence of you, my son.
It is the paradox of growth, that something must become less to give room for something to become more.
You, my seven-year-old, are much less dependent of me, but more, infinitely more, than I could have ever dreamt.