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?”
Maeby is mad at me. Today she made a pass at my chocolate protein bar, which is like a brick of poison for her (because, chocolate kills dogs, and also because Protein gives her urinary tract infections). Being the good mom that I am, I leapt for the protein bar and disentangled it from her jaws. It was an unpleasant experience for both of us; Maeby’s favorite food is chocolate and she really resented my forceful robbery. (To be fair, she robbed me first.).
I think I can be accused of not living fully in the present. In middle school I kept a blog about how excited I was to go to High School, to have a rival school, to heckle the rival basketball team. And yet the second I got to high school, I was always one panic attack away from college stress that I didn’t go to my first basketball game until senior year. And I couldn’t wait for that basketball game to be over, because everyone else knew all the collective heckles and chants, when to stand up, when to stay silent. I spent an hour cheering out of turn.
A colleague at work recently gifted me—or well, technically she gifted Hudson with a copy of the book Harold’s Purple Crayon. The story details a young boy with a large purple crayon that he uses to draw himself into a story. He’s a new protagonist on every page, but in the end, he draws himself a window and a pillow and a bed.
My sister bakes cookies.
One night, I was staying at my sister’s new home in Utah, when I wandered upstairs for a midnight snack. The house was dark, save for the well-lit kitchen. The lights concentrated on my sister, Bethany, while she concentrated on cookies. Flour coated her cheek, mostly just a light layer of dust except for one thick stripe along her cheekbone. She had her hair pulled in a messy bun, potential flyaways tamed by a small, stretchy headband. She’s short and her counter is tall. She pounded and rolled cookie dough from a giant mound she’d been working on for hours while the Game of Thrones played in the background. I get to see her all the time, but she struck me then as particularly beautiful.
Today was one of the very first days of my life where I felt like all of me.
I write this post in Winnemucca, Nevada. It’s a small town, population >8,000, but a motel on every corner. There is one main street, and then other lateral streets are labeled First, Second, and Third Street. I don’t believe it goes higher than Fourth Street.
And believe it or not, it’s been in this tiny town, with basically only four streets, that I felt like all of me. Because today I got to be a mom and a teacher.
To start, let me acknowledge that this post makes a few generalizations, for which, I apologize. Ish.
Recently, I was at an airport traveling solo, when a white man (I feel like the term “dude” is maybe a more accurate depiction, if I’m being linguistically precise) popped down next to me, headphones in. He was groomed and professional. After several minutes of not speaking to me at all, he pulled out an airpod and asked me to watch his stuff. At the airport.
This post doesn’t end in a metaphor.
It’s just an image.
It’s just a little boy swaying on level two in a pastel swing, flirting with a mobile made of what appear to be stuffed mice. It’s ten fingers and ten toes, recently trimmed. It’s a little bit of drool. It’s blue-grey eyes with a puzzle piece of brown in the upper right iris. I saw that before anyone else did, and no on can take that gift away from me, even when his eyes give way to a soulful brown.
This post isn’t a metaphor; it’s just a squeal and a happy, guttural gurgle punctuated with hiccups. It’s a pacifier with a red dragon—named Drogon—lying on his tummy as it starts to give way to 4-month-old chub. It’s a peek-a-boo tongue, the occasional yawn, and Dumbo ears. It’s a rogue, perambulatory foot.
It’s not a metaphor, it’s just a moment.
It’s just a moment where Hudson happens to be exactly 3 months, 2 days, 11 hours and 58 minutes old.
This post doesn’t end in a metaphor. It ends in a full-body smile, a smile so big that it needs wagging feet and flailing arms to go with it.
It’s Happy Huddy in his natural state. It’s hard to imagine that life gets happier than this.