Tomorrow my middle child turns six. And six weeks from now my baby will be two. Is she not a baby anymore? Well, happily it turns out that my definition of babyness includes any being who cannot complete a sentence, wants to be held constantly, and fusses wordlessly and loudly when not given his way. Oh dear…upon reading that sentence I realized that such a definition would include most of humanity; maybe I should narrow it to include total dependency and the actual enjoyment of having one’s diaper changed, but this also opens the net for some fairly unpalatable elements of human proclivities.
Never mind. She is a baby still.
Here are the things she adores:
futile attempts to run into the street with barely controlled feet
her grandfather, whom I happen to adore as well
Here are the things she loathes:
anything in her crib
her door even slightly askew
and my phone
any element of the universe that detracts from her pure centrality to everything else
She will, I suspect, be a huge fan of Eloise given their similarities. I will never, however, put tissues in my bra or wear a girdle or watch boxing like Nanny. One day all too soon this baby and I will board a flight to New York City and run around in mad joy, shopping in the West Village and buying too-expensive tickets to City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre and window shopping like paupers on the Upper East Side. But I, sigh, shall have no one to whom I might happily utter the words, “Charge it please, and thank you very much.”
Three days ago I saw an exquisite three month old baby girl. She had skin like a Tintoretto on a bright day in Venice and huge blue eyes and a perfect little baby body wrapped in pink and white. She looked like a fantastically wrapped gift from a hopeful suitor. A gorgeous temptation from either the greatest trickster, Biology, or Athena’s midwives: it matters not the source, the result of such a vision is always automatic, unconscious yearning. Do I want another baby? No, no, no of course not. Do I want a baby forever in my life? Of course I do. Hence, small dogs.
And then…and then…gone. The lovely residue will remain, like winter maple on bark, and as they grow so too will grow the complexities of relationships and stored memories and the deepening crevices of love, resentment, and intertwining selves. But the heavy, private, almost erotic love between baby and mother, the sort of love that blurs the outlines of reality, and makes everything else recede – it is this love that becomes instead of the whole house just the foundation, eventually covered by empty rooms and the passing of time.