Monday, 2 May 2011
I Can Only Say These Things To You While You're Sleeping
My little boy, my precious baby.
You feel more like a "baby" to me now than you did when you really were one. I've thought and thought about why and the only thing I can come up with is that at first, although I loved you, I didn't know you. Not really. Does that make sense? I loved you immensely but with caution. With a heart that needed time to grow used to you, to attach properly. Maybe you needed this with me as well. Time. Grace? I often wonder if the reason you never would just sit with me, just lay in my arms, even when you were only a few months old was that you didn't know me either. You didn't know my voice. My scent. My arms. I often laughed at you in the first months after we got you because your tiny face had such a perplexed expression at times...hesitant and alert. Watching me so seriously from your little blanket on the floor, perhaps thinking "Who are you?"
At the convent in Colombo, the sisters told us you were very content, that you never cried. That the other babies lay crying in their beds all day and night but you never made a sound, just lay there silently. Not wanting to be picked up or entertained. When we would visit you each morning, you also just lay there in our hands, staring at us. Eyes huge and wary. Tiny hands clasped on your chest. You were tiny, just 9 pounds at three months old. We'd play with you, tickle you and you would start to laugh and then stop, jamming your fist in your mouth. Like you didn't dare. Like anything might happen if you shut you eyes and laughed with all your heart. Yes, I loved you then so much but with the slightest pain too. Like I didn't dare. Like anything might happen if I opened my heart fully and confidently to you and loved you with all my strength.
After all, what if I failed? What if it...hurt? What then?
I took so much joy in you always. From the first day. That you have to understand. My heart was full of you. I knew the first day I saw you that if anybody dared to say an unkind word about you or hurt you in any way, I'd want to kill them. No question about it. I looked at the soft downy hair growing on your head and I fiercely wanted to protect you.
So I loved you from the very beginning but after awhile the part of that love that felt dangerous to me, the part I was so afraid would have the power to tear me apart, that part I was so afraid to just...feel...because I was afraid of its strength, that part changed and became less cautious. I remember the first night I went to bed and lay there grinning in the darkness thinking about you like a teen-ager with a crush and I thought "Something has changed, now you are my baby." My little boy who I love so much but I can't bear to be one of those gushing mothers so instead I down play it down, roll my eyes, make wry remarks about you...detach, detach, detach...
And my heart aches because I see you growing into a real boy. A determined boy. A boy no longer afraid to laugh. Or cry for that matter. A noisy, lively, busy, mischievous, beautiful little boy. You still won't sit with me or cuddle with me or let me sooth you but sometimes lately you run into my bedroom and pat the bed while smiling eagerly at me, your way of telling me you want me to lie down with you and hold you and sing to you. You lie there quietly, alert, much like you used to lie in our arms in Colombo...like you aren't sure but you kind of like it.
Oh William. I just don't want to fail you. I love you so much I can barely stand to think that someday you won't be a baby, this chubby wild toddler that I can gather up squirming in my arms and whose little face I can cover with kisses. But I am not sentimental. I know you are not mine to keep. You are mine to love and cherish. Mine to instruct and teach and guide. Mine for awhile. But not mine to keep. To think that would be a grave mistake. It would be to do you a disservice.
You are God's. You are your own.