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.
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.
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?”
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.