Last night I stubbed my toe hard against Hudson’s high chair. The S-word is made for just such an occasion. Sometimes upon a stubbed toe, it leaps involuntarily from my mouth, though even in my toe-stubbing exasperation, I’m always careful to omit the vowel so it doesn’t count as a full swear. That way, it seems more like expressive onomatopoeia rather than cursing.
I like so many things about fall, but the chieftest of which is putting a bare foot onto the first cold floorboard of the season. I like hopping into a hot shower to wash off the shivers of the morning instead of the sweats of the night. I like the first authentic sweater.
I realized tonight, while hunting for a pen, that somewhere in the dusk of recent memory, I’d replaced my journals with planners. I’d had every intention of making a tidy square in tomorrow’s box that I could check off as soon as I bathed Maeby. But my epiphany gave me pause. I stopped. I took a mental inventory: on the wanting scale, how badly did I want to bathe Maeby, or rather, how badly did I want to write in my planner that I needed to bathe Maeby?
I could feel anxiety in my toes this morning. Sometimes, though not always, that’s where it starts. It’s like those cartoons characters who wring their hands with stress, almost maniacally. But I’ve never seen anyone actually do that. For me, it’s much less theatrical, but more realistic—I wring my feet. Point and flex, point and flex, shuffle shuffle shuffle.
It always takes Hudson too long to finish his breakfast—this morning, it’s cottage cheese with a peanut butter chaser. Followed by, because I can’t resist, a graham cracker coated in peanut butter. It is just too gratifying NOT to give him his three favorite foods in succession–or rather, in tandem.
Everything is everywhere right now as we pack to move out of my parents’ basement. It’s not the triumphant move into a bougie condo or a three bedroom single-family home that we were hoping for, but it is a lateral move to a two bedroom apartment with a dishwasher and a flex space.
The way I know I’m not a real writer (yet) is that I can’t create from nothing. I can’t sit down at a desk and tame my brain with a deadline or a word count or a page limit.
This post isn’t a narrative. It’s just a screenshot. A wide pano zoom and a close up of a moment. It’s a sequence of words that forms the image of nine-months-old. Of happy babbles at 5:14 AM. Of little syllables that almost sound like Dad, but for the added J. “Dajd, Dajd, Dajd.”
It’s—inexplicably—an image of apple sauce crust on a forehead. It’s gurgly growls and a little hand on Dad’s nose, and a father waking up, first with a start and then with a smile. It’s the light of the closet, backlighting my boys as father whisks son into the air. It’s the silhouette of noses and upturned grins. It’s a literal silver lining after a disappointing few weeks.
It’s 5:17 AM gurgle giggles, and whimpers from a dog who hasn’t been replaced, but thinks she has. It’s the gentle bounce of four paws joining the fray, and a wet nose probing foreheads with a hearty good morning.
It’s a little boy who has been out longer than he was in. Which isn’t everything. But who has time for everything today?
It is enough.
Lately I’ve been trying to put words to parenthood, and I’ve been coming up empty. I think that’s why so many parents reach for cliches when trying to describe what its like to see their own child grow—the experience of parenthood is just so unwieldy that words elude us. We use the cliche to tame the largeness of the experience, because no one wants to go to the universe and back when they ask, “How’s Hudson doing?”