I picked the calendar up off the wall today, flipping the page around the spirals binding this year together. I lingered for a minute on the images from last April, last May. The Eldest in his muck-around-boots stomping in fresh mud puddles and running with fresh energy in a burst of April sunshine. Last May carried a heat wave, and the Little Ones stood proud in their swimsuits eager for the reprieve and baptism of the summer’s sprinkler filled pool. And the Littlest was just a flicker, an anxious anticipation in my belly.
May is the fifth month of the year. My littlest was born in the first. It seems impossible that we are here already. Of course he is such a small babe still, still so needy and tender. But as he nurses, constantly, legs stretched across my abdomen, I witness his lankiness wrap further down my body than before. He is heavy in my arms, and with his need to be kept close and persnickety dislike for the sling at times, my biceps are becoming more defined, my back a bit more aged. He has eyes that I know he saves only for me, his mama. He sure knows how to smile with those deep blues.
If time goes by quickly with a little babe, and doubly so with a second, I’m proof that I can not account for all the moments of this third little life. I have lived it; I know that his existence is etched in my memory even if I have not consciously stuffed it in there, and for that I am grateful. Sometimes, I cannot assuage the creeping guilt that this Littlest of mine is not the benefactor of my finest mothering moments. Those moments of adoringly gazing, each absorbing the essence of the other – these are far fewer than when the Eldest and I only shared our time and space. But this I’m sure: he is kept close, he is held tight. He is adored, oh-so-adored by his big brother and sister, and he is enveloped into our community. He is entertained in ways that I alone was never able to provide for the Eldest, and he benefits from this seasoned mother, less prone to worry, less fretful about his sleep.
This Littlest has started his tricks: he wants to make sure we see him, too, when often the bigger kids take the stage. Surrounded by not just our clan, but our second family, too, at Pizza Night, he was encouraged loudly while rolling over for the first time. He struggled and fussed, working through it until we all were witness to this hard-won accomplishment. He delighted in this new feat for a few days, but the novelty has since grown weary. For now, he often chooses to watch the family life bustle around him instead of instantly flipping over. He chimes in the conversation, insightful and banal, with a range of coos, experimenting in the deeper octaves.
It’s tempting to get lost in the emotional territory in which I have raised my flag, claimed as my own. But the Littlest, with this imminent growth, keeps me tethered to the day. And yes, it does go so fast. And so slow. And so in between. Not everything is glorious. But it’s not all not-glorious, either.