Hello, Baby. You are almost ONE! A few years ago, I posted a letter I wrote to your big sister on the eve of her first birthday. She was my first baby. You are my last. She, my best girl, and you, my best boy.
I remember when I was pregnant with you. I felt so guilty, because I felt like I wasn’t bonding with you. You were growing inside of me, and I was distracted with motherhood and life, with a very scary accident your sister went through, and with the seeming unending stress of my career. The world was literally catching on fire. The news was devoted to something called the “novel coronavirus”. The U.S. presidential primaries were underway. I felt like I had no time to think, or to just . . . be. That is, except at night, when my heartburn raged, and you kicked my ribs, and my mind sped in so many different directions that I had to turn on the Real Housewives just to drown out my own thoughts. And I felt scared. I was scared that you would come out screaming, like your sister had. Did I have another 4 months of a colicky baby ahead of me? Could I handle it if I did?
And then you were born and my fears vanished, your goodness swallowing me whole. My plump little baby placed on my chest after a smooth delivery. You didn’t cry that much. You slept a lot, which worried me, because I am a mother, and if a baby is awake a lot, a mother will worry, and if a baby is asleep lot, a mother will worry. But you were here and you were mine and your dad’s and your sister’s, and we were yours. You were perfect.
We came home two days later, on March 5, 2020. Your Nana was here from Florida, watching your big sister. She helped with your sister, and helped with you, and helped with me. She fed us. She filled my water bottle. She did your baby laundry. She oooh’ed and ahhh’ed over you. She held you and we took a picture. And then she had to go back home.
A week later, your sister’s school closed — along with the rest of the world. My blissful maternity leave turned into managing two kids at home with your dad. It felt like neither one of us ever had any down time. But I distinctly remember plopping you in a BabyBjorn in the shade outside, putting my feet up, and feeling the warm sun on my face. That was good. And I remember you napping on me in the rocking chair for one of your naps each day. I always kept a book close by so I could read while you snoozed. That was bliss. And I remember you laughing as your sister taught you about animals. That was joy.
But we wanted support we didn’t have. We wanted my dad and stepmom (Gramps and Nan) to meet you and hold you. We wanted your dad’s parents (Gigi and Pops) to kiss your cheeks and bounce you on their knees. We wanted my mom to come back out to play with you. We didn’t get those things.
We did get a long list of “at leasts”. At least we were all healthy. At least you were our second, and we kind of knew what we were doing. At least I was on leave when school was closed. At least you weren’t colicky. At least, at least, at least. But, a million “at leasts” don’t mean it was easy, they just mean it could have been harder. So, I guess congrats to us for not having the most difficult newborn experience during a pandemic?
When I went back to work, preschool and daycare reopened. Thank goodness, I thought. It was nice knowing that you were at a school we trusted, with wonderful teachers who also had taught your sister. I kissed you and your sister goodbye every day, and welcomed you into my arms every night, all while wondering when school would close and I would have to figure out how to have this career with two little kids at home (you know, like everyone else in the world was still trying to figure out, five months into the pandemic). Of course, you both eventually were sent home for two 10-day stints, the second of which is happening right now. If you want to know how it’s going to have two kids at home with two working parents, one of whom (me!) is billing 90 hour weeks, then I encourage you to Google, “Dorit — I’ll Tell You How I’m Doing”. My proverbial well, and the well of so many parents (especially mothers) is empty. And yet we forge ahead. What choice do we have? I feel like I’m failing. But, right now, the standard for passing is failing.
Fifty-one weeks have passed since you were born. And despite feeling like I’m failing, I feel . . . lucky. Lucky to know you. Lucky to love you. Lucky to see your gapped teeth when you smile. Lucky to be the recipient of your blown kisses. Lucky to watch you giggle when your dad’s stubble touches your face. Lucky to witness you smacking your sister’s head while laughing maniacally. Lucky to chase after you when you try to set off our house alarm or stick your hands in the toilet (gross). Lucky to hear you say “ma” and “da”. Lucky to cry when I watch you take your first steps and clap for yourself (perfect timing after a particularly hard day at work, by the way). Lucky that you brought us so much light in such a dark year. Lucky that you are my pandemic baby.
I love you, almost-birthday boy.