It is early in the morning and the boys have come tumbling out of their room. Potty activities completed, Zachary wants to get into bed with me, so both boys hop up and I am able to steal a few more horizontal minutes. Benjamin cuddles, his still-baby pudginess fitting perfectly into the crook of my arm.
On my other side, Zachary is playing with the flashlight I keep by the side of the bed (for emergencies – dirty-minded people). He is flashing circles on the ceiling and wall, conducting the classic childhood experiment of seeing what happens when the flashlight moves closer or further away from a surface.
He has always been a stringbean, my eldest child. So, there really was never any chubbiness to lose. Yet, watching him, it is clear he has lost his metaphorical baby fat. There is no more baby about him. He thinks and moves and feels like a boy. He has crossed through some imperceptible liminal space, leaving behind his babyhood forever when I wasn’t paying attention.
I did not know when Benjamin was a newborn that they would ever stop being babies. His older brother was a toddler, and they both qualified as babies. But, now, as my second child is already more than halfway through to full-blown childhood, I look at his brother and realize that they only spend a moment in that round, affectionate stage.
I am fortunate. This accidental baby, the one growing in my womb, will come to me when I already know that she will grow up too soon. In her infancy, I will know what we can only learn through experience: they don’t let us keep our babies.
I wonder if it will make a difference.
To L and J, DZ, EC, and all the rest of the first-time parents out there.