My Dear June,
Today I stood in your nursery and watched the way the light made patterns on the wall and thought that if you were awake, you would have enjoyed watching it. And then I realized that it wasn’t too long ago that I had no idea the things you would like or what you would find interesting, and in just a few short months you have gone from a stranger to tiny human with likes and dislikes and a personality that is expanding and becoming more each day. I guess that’s what all this time we spend together will do—we’re learning each other, you and I, our patterns and rhythms and breaths and paces.
You sleep these days with your lips pursed—we call it your “June face”—with your hands tucked under your chins that are growing by the minute. When you wake up, you’ll stretch those hands high and wide for a full twenty minutes, and you’ll kick your legs and you’ll smile big and wide and finally, you’ll be ready to face the day—another day, when you will get bigger and longer and I will not notice because I will be so busy playing with you, calming you, changing you, feeding you—not until I pull out a favorite outfit from the closet and realize it is too tight around the waist, to short on those chubby legs of yours. Then I’ll fold that little outfit and put it away and try not to cry like I have been lately each time you outgrow a new thing, because I’m learning that each new day is like a thousand golden grains of sand slipping through my hands and I can’t catch or save them.
Mothers always say they don’t remember much from the early months and already I am forgetting—what it felt like to hold you at the very beginning, how exhausting it was to get up in the night with you, what my life was ever like before you entered it. And I am terrified that I am forgetting because it is all happening too fast and too full and you will be grown up and gone before I ever get my head around it, and so here are the scatterings from these days, the glass jars I want to look back at when the sand is gone, the ways your presence in our house is changing your dad and I. What do I want to remember? Everything. But if I can’t, I will at least remember this:
Your laugh is like a birdsong, unrestrained and without weight. No one can make you laugh the way your daddy does. You and I both think he is the funniest person in the world. Sometimes all he has to do is walk into a room and you let that giggle loose and it flies and sings around the room, splashing color on the walls. You’re fascinated with your mouth these days—with putting everything in it—hands, feet, your monkey, my hair. You suck on your lower lip and look like a little old lady who lost her dentures, and sometimes you do it until I look at you and then you break out into a smile like it’s the funniest thing.You love to be read to, and you look at those pages and chat like you’re saying something important, and maybe you are.
And bath time—bath time is like a sport. Your dad put you in that tub once and there was no going back to the baby bath. You start kicking your legs and splashing like you are in a competition. It’s like your sensory deprivation tank. Sometimes, if you’re having a really fussy day, we’ll just put you in the tub and let you kick it out.
What are these days, June? You won’t remember them; I’m already forgetting them, yet I feel their weight and importance in everything. I’ve read your personality will be developed by three, and maybe there’s something to that—to becoming who you are before you can be self conscious about it, before you can try to change it. You are not self conscious about anything now—you think it is hilarious when you blow out your diaper or when you spit up everywhere. When you’re happy, you laugh; when you’re hungry or tired, you cry, and there’s such a beauty and simplicity in that—you’re teaching me to be more open and honest with myself.
It’s your eyes that I want to remember most—those huge, blue eyes that take in everything. You are a baby who is more than content to stare at your burp cloth for forty-five minutes, and that patience must come from your father, because it is certainly not from me. I never understood the phrase eyes light up until I saw your eyes do it when I read you Green Eggs and Ham for the first time. It was like a bottle of joy was released from the inside out and that is the way you are about everything that is new and different. I pray you will never lose this curiosity, this freshness, this joy of discovery. I am amazed, every time I see those eyes, that they were made inside of me, that all of you could have been formed and put together inside of me. You were your own person and an unfolding mystery right from the very start.
I’ll keep these outfits you keep growing out of, June. Years from now, when I rediscover them and unfold them, maybe there will be a few golden grains of sand hidden in the fabric, and for a few moments, I’ll be able to look again at the June you once were and reconcile it with the beautiful June I know you’ll become.