The roundness of his cheek in stillness proves that nothing exists, more pure, than a sleeping baby. The soft, cushioned pads of his little fingers. His hands move with innate purpose, feeling the curve of my jaw in the darkness and the security of a breast through pyjamas. His tongue clicks and his tiny jaw dances forward and back as he seeks comfort with a thumb in his mouth. The way his fine blonde hair flicks with the beginnings of wholesome curls and his coming to understand that those wisps are a part of him, on his head and belonging to his body.
The smell of him in every instance. After breakfast when it’s butter from toast, mid morning when it’s fresh with winter air and soil from his escapades outside. Mid afternoon when it’s milk from a bottle or the evening; his small body washed and ready to rest. Inhaling these many scents is vital…before they change, before the fragrance of his babyhood is lost forever and replaced by another impressionable bouquet, from another time and far far away from what is right now.
His naked body is unashamedly sublime in all its plumpness and covered by a skin surely thread by angels. Running fingers over the rolls covering his arms and legs, I ponder the tautness of the muscle these bumps are sure to become.
His voice; the babble which day by day is becoming more coherent, a bittersweet harbinger of growth but which for now remains at the sweetest pitch. Knowing that one day this very voice will break as he passes through the arches of manhood and the baby in my arms will be a long distant memory is unbearable and unbelievable: perception of presence in every moment right now is crucial, my heart and mind concur.
One day, the weight of him – at times heavy on my hip and cumbersome with managing more than just holding him, will be too much to carry. The smallness of his body and the way in which it moulds to mine will fit no longer; likely more so that he will exceed my form, towering over my ageing figure as he embraces me with tables having turned.
He will choose his clothing; the seams woven in the cotton explaining the storyline of his young life. He will dress himself; help with socks and laces but a hindrance to his independence. He will move his body with intuition; the funny experimental gestures he entertains now having become cemented into the cells that make him up.
The fairness of his wispy hair will thicken and darken and I can only hope that he retains the delicate curl of a very young child. The photos will be all that exist to prove what once was…and the memory.
He will act with intention, his words thoughtfully structured into sentences with the deepest of feeling behind them and the sweetness of baby’s chatter forgotten; alas for the little moments passing another child in the aisle of a supermarket or on the street in spring time.
He will make choices based upon reason and hopefully instinct will guide him; a beacon of light in moments of darkness he will no doubt venture into alone. With hope in my heart I envisage him coming to me; a mother’s counsel incomparable and ceaselessly sought.
Now, it’s not possible to deny his primordial desire for proximity and how could you. For even with the knowing that the nighttime brings a fear felt only by those who have visited the enclosing walls of a mind unslept; even then the bond of a mother stands unyielding. A dose of courage is taken daily, alongside a quiet reminder that one day, all of this will remain only as a collection of memories, pieced together by fragments of colour photographs and conversations of how things once were.
You would think that these intimate moments, filled with subtle poignancy and corporeal closeness would remain clasped safely in the chambers of a mother’s heart for all time. But the mind is an evolving species. Fluttering wings in new climates force the feathers to adapt: the memories become a part of the mechanism that enable the instrument to function. Though the minute particulars of the sensory experience slip sadly and quietly from the mind, they are forever etched into the soul.