There is a high chair in my kitchen now. It feels like finding your 7-year-old wearing heels and lipstick and smoking a cigarette. How can Rocco be eating solids already? How can he cheat on me like that?! This is the very beginning of weaning my baby, and it’s a hard transition for me. In a matter of weeks I will no longer be the only nourishment my baby needs.
What’s worse about this whole “starting solids” thing is that I’m the one holding the spoon up to Rocco’s mouth and making goofy faces to get him to open up. It’s not like he’s pushing me away; it’s like I’m pushing him away. I’m telling Rocco with every spoonful I offer that he doesn’t need me as much as he used to. Starting today and for every day after this he will eat just one baby spoonful of independence until one day he moves out or falls in love and then the weaning is truly complete. (Alternately: we redo the basement and start charging him rent.)
When I rock Rocco to sleep now he has some real weight to him. His whole self used to not even reach across my stomach, and now he’s too big to lie sideways on the rocking chair without bending his legs. When I pick him up his body doesn’t melt into mine. His head pushes away and swivels around to answer the question, “What else?” There used to not be anything else. Just me.
I really am excited though. I’m excited to meet this easy-going, toy-loving, giggling narcoleptic that is our son and to see what form his sense of humor takes under mine and Kevin’s careful tutelage (although Vincenzo will likely have a stronger influence). I get so excited with every milestone Rocco reaches that it eases the pain of knowing that he’s a little farther away from the warm, helpless, red-faced newborn who took his first breaths on my own chest and who knew like I did that only one person’s love was all that mattered then and forever. “Forever,” I realize, doesn’t last. Rocco will eventually learn that too much love can smother a person and that sometimes even though you are loved with every piece of a person’s heart there will be days you feel lonely.
But I was talking about being excited. I am. I am!!! I am excited to see our walls and photo albums fill up with the funny and the sweet. I’m excited for the first time he says “mama” and he means me, but he also means the deepest kind of comfort that exists on this planet. I’m excited for his first steps and all the steps after those that will take him any direction he looks. I’m excited for the first time he hugs me back and the first time he makes his brother laugh on purpose. I’m excited to see if he chooses cheetah print or zebra for his first cape. I’m excited for his first armpit fart.
Once I had a baby who didn’t grow, whose fingers are frozen in time as impossibly tiny miracles resting on my finger, whose only milestone we can record was the act of being born. His name was Angelo. And while he was a beautiful, beautiful gift, he was a gift we would like to receive just once.
I want to hang on to today more than ever. I spend my life reminiscing about the past and terrified of the future but for this sweet, short time when I have my own baby to hold. For this sweet short time I get to live in today. “The reason they call today ‘the present’ is because it is a gift.”*
So BRING IT, strained peas with creamed carrots. BRING it.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Pear and Tillamook cheese soup
Beans and bacon in cider vinaigrette
*Embarrassingly, it’s a quote from “Kung Fu Panda.”