Last week it was warm enough to wear a skirt without tights for the first time in months. The week before, I went for a bike ride around the park one sunny morning while our babysitter, Mavis, took Jackson to the library for story time. When I came home, they were still out so I took a long shower and didn’t worry about listening for a cry or a wail from the other room. Afterward, I turned on the stereo and danced around my living room. This week, I’ve been working from a new neighborhood coffee shop the two mornings Mavis has watched Jack. No one there asks me where the baby is or how he’s doing or whether I’ve been getting any sleep (they don’t even know I have a kid). Some people ask what I’m working on though.
A few weeks ago I started carrying Jackson facing outward in the wrap I use to hold him close to me when we’re out and about. We’ve been going for long walks all around the neighborhood and, when it’s sunny, he wears shades. For some reason, people think this is the funniest/most random/interesting/weird thing they’ve ever seen, a baby in shades. We get stopped on the street all the time. People honk as they drive by. They laugh. One woman the other day standing next to us at the crosswalk said she couldn’t take her eyes off him (and she couldn’t). Another woman asked me why he was wearing shades. “It’s sunny,” I say, tired of always feeling like I need to justify everything. “I don’t want his eyes to hurt.” No one asks me why I wear sunglasses.
When we walk, I tell Jackson about everything we’re seeing.
“Those are daffodils, Jack,” I say, pointing to the yellow flowers in someone’s yard.
“There’s a group of pre-schoolers crossing the street. You’ll be in pre-school in a few years.”
“That’s a kind of dog called a Golden Retriever,” I say. “That other one looks like a mutt.”
“There’s another baby like you, Jack.”
Jackson holds my index fingers with a firm grip, like he’s holding the handles of a motorcycle. I imagine him, years from now, helmet on, hugging the turns of the road as he rides. I imagine him years from now.
The time last year he was still a secret from most of the world. I didn’t know yet how hard the first few months of his life would be. I didn’t know the challenge of finding myself again after becoming a mother. I didn’t know I’d question myself so much, feel like I was making wrong decisions, like I was failing, like I wasn’t being the best version I could be. I didn’t know my heart could swell with so much love and pride and gratitude at the same time my mood and spirit plummeted.
I think of Jackson holding on to my fingers when we walk, how firm his grasp is, like he’s holding the handles of a bike as he rides.
We hug the turn of the road as we go. We hang on tight. We don’t let go.