This morning, Lily and I crawled out of bed and left you sleeping. Your hands were curled shut and flanking your cheeks like little bookends. Somewhere between coffee and eggs, I hear you sigh. It’s half a song and a yawn, and when I walk in to say good morning, you smile with your whole face. You kick your legs and give a wriggle when I kiss your nose. I pick you up, and you curl into my shoulder, nuzzling my neck.
You’re so patient in the morning. I sit you in the sunlight, surrounded by pillows and rattles and books that crinkle, and you pick through them methodically, grasping each with your little fists, smacking them into the floor or gumming them. Your sister gives you kisses and hugs, she runs around, takes your stuffed animal and hands you another. Sometimes she makes you cry, and sometimes she makes you laugh. I’m always telling her to be gentle, to pull back, to be a good big sister, and she tries.
We eat breakfast and get changed. Just before we leave, you nurse. I almost always think you’ll fall asleep, but you rarely do. You curl in, trying to get some peace while your sister competes for my attention, playing the harmonica or banging about in her little kitchen or asking for a story. “Not now, Lily. Lu’s eating, she’s trying to sleep. Shhhh. We’ll leave in a little bit. Go play with your toys.”
On our way out the door, my hands are full. You’re in your car seat, Lily’s still resisting her winter coat, and I have my purse, the keys, my phone, a carrier, and a bag of library books looped through my arms and banging the sides of my legs. You were crying on the way out, but once you see the sun, you start cooing and smiling again, happy to be outside.
I wrangle the two of you into the car. Once I’ve buckled in your car seat, I run half way down the block to chase after Lily, who’s giggling and looking behind her to see if I’m in pursuit.
We drive to Walgreens for passport photos, and I hold you in front of the white screen awkwardly, trying not to get in the photo. No matter. You smile anyway, and then it’s your sister’s turn. She’s a little alarmed. She thinks we’re going to Mexico today; the link between this photo and our summer trip doesn’t quite make sense.
You’re happy in the car. No cries. You play with my wallet, hitting the sides of your car seat with it. When we get to music class, I can tell you’re tired and you want to nurse, but I’m wearing a dress, and I’m still not completely comfortable nursing in public. I try to avoid it when I can. I hate that. I’d like to invent a nursing bra with the image of a hand flipping the bird to anyone who doesn’t like it, but it does bother me, the looks. So I hand you my watch to play with, and we go inside.
You like music class, but the time’s all wrong. You’re ready for nap. You cry after we put away each instrument, and when Lily tries to dance or cuddle with you, your face crumples. Even so, you smile and sing along. You like bouncing on my knee and shaking the rattles, ringing the bells. You love when we get up and dance. Today we danced to ‘Send Me On My Way’ which is one of my anthems.
At the end of class, we sing ‘so long, farewell, goodbye my friends, so long, farewell, goodbye.’ I load you into your carrier, and we walk the six blocks to the library. On the way, you nurse and then you fall asleep, head into my chest, heavy weight. I cajole and bribe Lily the whole way. ‘You can have a snack after we are done with the library. Hold my hand. Lily, watch where you’re going. I know it’s a long way. You have strong legs. Wow! I’m so proud of you! You’re such a great runner! Are you going to be a runner like you’re mommy and daddy?’
You sleep through it all. I wrap you in my jacket, but the sun in shining, and you head feels warm. I kiss your downy hair. At the library, you start to cry because your sister is worried that I won’t let her scan the books at the self-checkout. She calms down when I set her up, stacking the books and lighting up the bar codes, but you’re a little grumpy that you’ve been woken up.
We get outside, and you smile up at me. Something about that sunshine and cool air.
Lily looses it on the way back to the truck. It’s my fault. It’s one thirty, we’ve walked nearly a mile, and I’m out of snacks. She’s tired and hungry and… Tired. I carry her on my hip for a block, and she sniffs through her tears and kisses you. You’re not pleased with the additional passenger, encroaching on your space.
Finally, finally, we get to the truck. I buckle the two of you in, slide into my seat, and pull out the passport photos to take another peek. So darn cute. I look at my watch. It says 2.8 miles, but I’m not sure how much of that is from shaking a tambourine in music class.
We drive the residential roads home, but neither of you fall asleep. Back at the house, I set you up in the sun again. You play while I make lunch and pour myself another cup of coffee. Lily bursts into tears over her eggs and beans. I change your diaper and put Lily down for nap. I scoop you up and we nurse. You fall asleep and I pull out the computer, trying to write without waking you up.
These are our days. This is you. You’re still so little that you feel like a part of me. I know your cries, and your comfort is mine. Nursing, cuddling – these are my rest too. Soon, you’ll be crawling. I find you on your tummy often, having launched there in an effort to grasp a toy just out of reach. But for now, you’re in my arms or sitting in the sun.
I love you, Lu. You’ve taught me so much. You’re resilient and curious, patient and happy. When I labored and delivered you, I felt your little spirit the whole time: calm, patient, and sure. You’re first months have shown me the ease and joy of new life. You help me to be calm, to be patient, to be sure.