Giovanna, age 1
I want it to never end. Her voice so raspy and her words so accented. Her knees so knobby and her feet so hardy. Her neck so sweet and her cheeks so edible. Her fingers so dainty and her lips so pink. Her heart so pure and her joy so radiant.
I look at her and I know what life is all about. I know my life is not in vain. I know that real joie de vivre is palpable and gritty and accessible in every moment. I know that I belong where I am and I am where I belong.
When I look at pictures of my baby as a littler baby, cheeks rounder and face smaller and eyes bigger and my oh my, my heart moves swiftly and I wonder how I will survive all of this change. Life isn’t perfect, but then it is perfect, and our children will grow up and move away. They won’t always need us and I cannot imagine not needing them. I cannot imagine living without that squeaky “mama?” and that angel soft skin brushing against my skin, perpetually seeking closeness and cuddles. I cannot imagine being okay without all of this.
I want to gather her into my arms and hold her and protect her and keep her forever. I want to etch our every day together into my memory for safekeeping. I want to never forget any of it, but I also want it to never end.
And then I realize, actually, I don’t want to go into the past. I love her how she is right now. And I will love her every day in the future. It’s not the love that’s going to fade, it’s the baby and our youth and the present state of who we are. What I must believe, because it’s the only way I have of coping with the fleeting passage of time, is that what lies ahead will bring as much joy as what we left behind. That change happens to bring us into ourselves.
Still, I seek to freeze the sweetness of today, and not only with a camera. I want to keep it somewhere that I can always reach. I can blog and journal and take videos, and all of this helps, but the only salve that really works is to be here. Present with my family.
Because no matter how time hurdles forward with cavalier velocity, if I can look back and deeply know that I lived these moments, that I paid attention to the inflections of tiny voices and the grandeur of youthful imaginations, that I delighted in her feminine passions and I never failed to giggle at her proclamations (“oh my godness!”), that I witnessed her nurse and care for her baby doll with the same adoring expression I nursed and cared for her; then I will know that this joy lives inside of me and nothing, not even time, can take it away.
I’ll be okay without the tantrums, too.