When I hold him and run my fingertips along the buttery skin of his cheeks, I wonder if I’ll remember this. This exact moment.
Will I remember what his flawless baby skin felt like when I stare into the face of the man he’ll become one day? When I look into that man’s face, will I still see the baby whose chubby, neck-less body I used to kiss? It’s hard to wrap my mind around it. He’s noticeably growing daily, but I’m not sure how it happens. Does it happen as he sleeps, his body elongating, his facial features becoming sharper and more prominent?
Everyone tells you this first year goes so quickly and it does. Even in those foggy newborn moments, I remember circling and tracing his hands and feet in my mind, as if that alone would help me remember how small they once were. Every day, I took a mental inventory: the exact pitch of his cry, the circumference of his tiny head, the shape of his fleshy ears. But, still, even with all the photos taken almost hourly on my phone as proof over these past nine months, I’m already forgetting.
He’s obviously the same baby, but he’s a different baby too. There are things he doesn’t do anymore. He doesn’t spit up (thankfully), he doesn’t cry for me the second he sees me enter the room like he used to. He’s content playing by himself. He’s less clingy and needy, heading more and more toward independence. He stands alone on his legs for long chunks of time, without a surface to hold onto. He’s not walking yet, but pushing closer to that milestone. He feeds himself everything the rest of the family is eating, with a deft pincer grasp to boot.
When I stare at his perfect baby face as he drifts off to sleep in my arms at night, I struggle to imagine the man. What will that man look like? What will his voice sound like? What will give him joy in life? The uncertainty of it all is exhilarating and overwhelming at the same time. It’s all a mystery and I want to both slow down the process in getting there and speed it up, so I can meet that man and make sure he’s okay, to know that life is mostly good to him and that he’s as happy as he once was as a nine-month-old baby, the one who came along at exactly the right time in our lives, the one with an easy smile and a contagious belly laugh that made everyone in the room laugh right along with him.
Happy Nine Months, Baby Boy.