I've been thinking a lot about who you are today and also so much about who you were. Maybe because of how grown you seem these days; how mature and how much more independent. Or maybe it's due to an imagined (and much hoped for) pregnancy that wasn't. (What do you call a pregnancy "scare" that wouldn't have been at all scary? A pregnancy dream? A dream so torturous to wake up from...) Something has me consumed with babies these days - both remembering and imagining, past and future.
Who you were as a baby was such a great contrast to who you are now. You were difficult, trying, angry and screaming. Purple faced and thrashing. Sad and scared. I look at you today, sitting so contentedly with simple things: a staircase, a bucket full of dried beans, books and mardi gras beads. And I wonder how you could possibly be the same baby who came out terrified and miserable. What changed so much over the past 17 months?
You are an old soul, Oliver. I really believe that. You are gentle in a way that I see so few babies be gentle. You are deliberate in every move you make. Not a muscle twitches without you thinking, like a chess player, 10 steps ahead, knowing the eventual outcome of your decision. You aren't fearful - petting zoos and thunderstorms leave you grinning, strangers have you hesitant but never scared. You stand your ground with quiet determination. You don't give into bullying or snatching toddlers, but you don't fight them either. You have a presence and real intuition and I know you've been here before. I know it.
So how, then, could you - this wise old being in a fresh young body - have been so scared for so many months? Why would you scream and thrash, needing constant reassurance and such abundant attention?
As an infant I had always imagined you as a frightened baby bird: wet, wrinkled and immature, bulging eyes closed and blinded, beak gaping, searching for sustanence. But I think I misjudged you. Rather than an underdeveloped and frightened animal perhaps you were an old man, a yogi. Someone who had been here so many times before and had tasted infinity. Someone who believed their journey on earth was nearly complete and that he would finally return to the freedom of eternity. Someone who had glimpsed Nirvana, so close to peace he could smell it. And just before breaking free into boundless grace you were thrust violently back into a new and struggling body. Denied beauty and enlightenment and forced instead to live again. And who wouldn't be pissed about that?
I am so grateful that I chose to gently guide you through your anger and pain in those early days. I could've forced you to conform to my mold and asked you to fight your demons on your own. But I decided instead to love you through it. To hold you through your confusion and rock you through your fear. And maybe in doing so I showed you that this life isn't something to be fought and scorned. Maybe you saw that the world is kind and good, that this journey is exhilarating and fresh. And maybe as your gift to me, you are in turn reminding me that this world is kind and good. That this journey is exhilarating and fresh.
I know every parent believes their child is something amazing. (And they are right. Oh, they are so right.) I am no exception. You might not become an astronaut or a priest. You might not save lives or paint renowned works of art. But I know that you are good. So good. And I am so lucky that you chose me to live this life with.