11 April 2009

Hartley: Three Months Old

Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but are not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

- Kahlil Gibran

The art of sneaking away with both hands free to type these missives is nearly equal to the task of writing them, as you’re much more savvy about naptime than you once were, and although my thoughts rest almost exclusively with you now (with the important exception of your father, of course), conjuring something intelligible from these with the spoils of motherhood still booming away in my breast is about as fathomable some days as building a church out of feathers and wind.

It occurred to me earlier this week that I could by now compile a dictionary of your sounds, the meaning of which, though they most certainly elude most others, speaks directly to my heart and makes me babble to you in tones that would have my nineteen-year-old self blushing with shame and burying her nose in a copy of Gravity’s Rainbow which, between you and I, she’s really only pretending to understand.

I didn’t know then that one day I’d become the linguist tasked with the important job of interpreting such obscure expressions as ‘owb’ and ‘aidoo’ which, as far as I can tell, are variations of ‘oh’, as in: Oh. I see you’ve got your face buried in my neck. Okay then. Lately I can’t seem to keep my face out of your neck, my lips off the soft skin of your belly and the slightly sticky soles of your feet, and even when you are asleep and I know that waking you would spell disaster, I can no more deprive your silky cheeks of kisses while you nap than I can keep myself from eating an entire bag of Sour Strawbs once they’ve been opened.

I think we must have reached the honeymoon phase of your infancy, because everything you do now – from those wide, gummy smiles that appear out of nowhere, even though you may have been shrieking with rage over the Springtime bumper on the Cbeebies channel only moments before, to the hysterical crying that could mean just about anything and that you do with such ridiculous charm that I can’t help but savor it a bit, even while I’m trying to make it stop – fills me with pure, unadulterated joy. You’ve come to associate me with such visceral integrity as well, and will often look up from a feed to consider my face and then offer me an unexpected peek at that lovely, shivering tongue of yours.

I have never felt so uninhibited, so given over to laughter and smiles as I have since I’ve known you, and you should know that this is a rare and wonderful thing you’ve inspired. Your lack of guile once frightened me, but I’m learning that although it renders you utterly vulnerable to the evils of humankind as I sometimes perceive them, it also reminds me of how beautiful the foundation of love and trust really is, and it fills me with awe when I think of how effortlessly these exist in you. I hope I will never do anything to bruise that inherent trust you have in me, or cast into doubt my love for you.

“Your children are not your children,” Kahlil Gibran famously wrote, and even though you are completely reliant on me, I know that this is true: that you do not belong to me in the most fundamental sense, even now. Your daddy and I are just the ones who are lucky enough to assist you in learning to be the lovely little person you already are. This is why, when you reward me with that enthusiastic grin of yours, I feel humbled, proud, and compelled to tell you Thank you, oh thank you! each and every time.

“You are the bows from which your children/ as living arrows are sent forth,” he continues, and although my trained eye must ultimately guide you towards “the mark upon the path of the infinite,” right now I am aiming that arrow straight back at myself so that I can feel the point go through me again and again. At least for a little while.

Happy third month, little boo. You’re awake again and I’m coming to see you.


Anonymous said...

So lovely. I hope you are compiling these in a book for your lucky boy.

The Mother Tongue said...

What a beautiful entry. To all of it, I say: yes, exactly.

Lacking said...


pk said...

All true andlovely, but as a more seasoned and world weary parent, and a curmudgeon to start with, I think M. Gibran should get his hand off it. I always take against whoever the new 'person whose work everyone reads at weddings and funerals' is: I don't think I'll ever read Auden again

Friday said...

Yes, I sensed a kind of 'father of the bride speech' hiding inside that verse myself, but all the same...

pk said...

I think when the time comes I'll just read some Kierkegaard......