I remember my parents saying, "You don't understand. You're not a parent," and being so pissed. What kind of statement was that, anyway? Usually, it was to cut off any discussion about being told "No" to some request or in answer to my objections to some boundary. Occasionally, it was also used to explain their devoted, blind, ridiculous love for me (primarily, this was my mom talking).
No matter how fat or stupid I felt she would always tell me I was beautiful and wonderful and smart as hell. When I looked at her like she was fat and stupid she would simply say, "You don't understand. You're not a parent. You are perfect to me."
And thus, I finally get it.
Almost 20 months ago I became a new version of myself. I bore unto this gloriously fucked up earth a tiny human being solely dependent upon me and my body. His existence hanging on my resourcefulness and resilience; my survival dependent upon Anthony's support and encouragement. We became an entity other than us. No longer were we just "Jessica and Anthony" we became a Family, lo, became family.
That was also the day I became a one-woman cheering fan club. There is nothing that Hollis can say or do that I don't think is bloody miraculous and painfully cute.
Each day and week that goes by there's something new:
A month ago he began saying two-syllable words and my head exploded with glee. He's a freakin' genius!
Two weeks ago he began eating with a fork. What cunning and coordination!
Last week he began singing absolute nonsense, but for the sheer joy of hearing his little tiny alto voice rise and fall inside his chest. I see music in his future!!
He's also begun making up words for things that all start with the letter "N." "Nana" is monkey. "Nya-nya" is motorcycle. "Naa-naa!" is cookie. "N" the letter that emotes in me me images of chocolate, dark tree trunks, and snugly blankets. How did he know??
I am convinced that he is smarter than me already. The other night in the bathtub I was asking him to point to colored sponge letters stuck on the wall. I would say, "Blue! Where's the blue one, Hollis??" and he would giggle as he pointed at every single color but blue. He'd giggle harder each time I'd say a tight-lipped, clipped little, "No," to each incorrect point, his slick, round belly jiggling the water. *Ahhhh, I really will need a heart transplant at some point, I'm sure... it's too old and withered to withstand this kind of frenzied love intoxication - or maybe I should be worrying about my liver??*
something. And I'm the woman to give it to him and give it to him lovingly.
And that's the lesson that's on the heels of experiencing this LOVE thing; I have patience out the freaking wazoo and I finally get why my mom tortured herself with horrifically long hours both in and out of the home. Things have come into perspective like never before. I know what's important now: Without a doubt my family comes first in the world, as it is for most mothers. It's an object of attention, other than ourselves, that is as rewarding as anything else I can imagine. It's more important than the whole universe outside of me. Everything starts with the family, after all. Everything.
Giving Hollis shelter and love and providing a stable, caring home in which he grows is an enormous source of pride for me, and I think, for Anthony, too. We came from homes that were less than ideal. Neither of us had a clue what a successful partnership or family looked like. We're making this up as we go along, but goddamn, it sure feels good. I think we're on the right track.
It's hard to believe this transformation in me. I feel so different from the woman I was. I used to worry so much about other people and what they thought of me, and while I still have my moments, the amount of concern and the duration I gnash on it has really diminished. I find beauty and wonderment in before me every day. It paws at my thighs for a lift up and pats my ample rear followed by peals of laughter. It comes in for a "nose kiss" and shrieks running around the house when the "potato-potato-potato" rumblings of the motorcycle in the garage vibrates the house.
This was going to be a post about all the new things Hollis has been doing lately, but it's morphed into an homage to him and his spirit and their affect on me.
So, here's to you, my sweet, little baby. You are magnificent. I want to always remember that at this age I can just barely wrap my thumb and middle finger around your upper arm. You don't like to snuggle, instead preferring being carried on my hip when you need some time with Mama. You drink "milk" like it's going out of style. You race to your zone and shut the door when I ask, "Hollis, do you want a cookie?" You are infatuated with Grandma and Grandpa.
You often prefer one or the other between me and your father, and push the offending parent away with a shout of, "Neww!" You love dragging things around the house like laundry baskets, buckets, my box of stationary and the trash can. You have decided that wherever Digby is he should be somewhere else and you whack him awkwardly and push him with all your might until he complies. You lose your shit when you get to play with the hose. You are obsessed with flowers.
You hardly ever wear onesies anymore. You have begun making "motor" noises when you see a motorcycle. You are cautious and deliberate with your body and what you do with it. You are eating more sophisticated things and regularly eat at restaurants with us. I think you'll be right-handed.
You are still taking two naps (thank God), but sometimes get by on one (booo). You adore your Aunt Larry as if she were a giant cookie. You cluck, quack, meow, whinny, roar, moo, coo, and bark. You are no longer cool on airplanes. Sometimes, for reasons unknown to me, you wake up either crying or giggling. You like to swing on every swing at the park one right after the other until they've all been swung on. You "read" to yourself.
You demand to eat whenever we enter a grocery store. You are honest and wise and very, very funny. And last, but not least, you snore.