You’re laughing right now with your sister on the couch in front of me. She’s sitting high on top of the cushions and you’re trying to climb up to her and you’re both cracking up. Occasionally she pushes you down and you whine, but I’m afraid you’re starting to get used to being the “annoying younger brother” and you’re so patient with her and you keep trying to play. Your face is covered in dried banana and your teeth have that perfect gap between them. That was one of the number one reasons I fell in love with your dad. He later got his teeth “fixed” and I haven’t seen the gap in a while. I realize how much I miss it when your lips separate and your grin stretches to your ears.
You are an active, happy, relatively laid-back baby. You are just starting to really “talk” and you really like showing concerned faces when you say, “Ohhhh.” You also do plenty of boyish grunt noises and a few “Mmmm’s” if you’re eating something really delicious or want my food. You have torn up several books, gotten stuck in random places and positions, and eaten quite a number of undesirable items, including grass yesterday while we were outside, which made you puke and then immediately go back to playing.
This past month someone broke into our car and stole a DVD player. They passed up more expensive items and a checkbook I had stupidly kept in the center console but instead went for the player thinking it was worth the most. At first it didn’t bother me that much but now you hate the car even more than before, so when I think about that person sitting around watching DVDs it really makes me want to punch them in the teeth. Sometimes I imagine that it was someone that gave it as a gift to their own children, especially after seeing the Ice Age 2 DVD loaded up, and I say to myself, “Maybe they couldn’t afford a DVD player and their child is so happy right now.” Then I go back to the tooth-punching thought and marinate there for a little while.
With that theft came a feeling of insecurity. I felt violated and paranoid. We took some pretty big security measures, including buying a powerful gun and making a concrete plan, but I still feel sad that I can’t do some of the things I did before without any thought or worry. The first couple of nights after it happened I couldn’t sleep well and laid in bed thinking of awful situations that will probably never, ever occur. I used my stop sign method several times, but usually the nightmarish daydream played out to it’s conclusion without me being able to intervene effectively. Most of the time the conclusion was that I killed myself in some strange act of heroism to protect you and your sister. In one of them I jumped from the second story bedroom, cradling your bodies in my arms and using my body as a shield to soften your fall, the goal being escaping a bullet. Yes, really. This is what you’re working with.
These thoughts aren’t thoughts I ever want you to have, of course. In someone with an anxious mind, they are to be expected, especially after stressful events. But I want you to learn that thinking these things through doesn’t prevent them, no matter how deeply you feel like it might. It’s a control thing, and like I told you last month, I want you to know God so you can give him those worries and let him take control.
Mothering love is a love in which our soul’s desire is to protect you. Like an animal in the wild, I have no regard for my own life if yours is in danger. I think of mamas out there suffering the loss of their babies, and the thought is unbearable so the experience of it must be something of another world. I know they have that deep, internal ache to take the place of their child. To ensure their safety at all costs, no matter what. But I also know that a mother with that much love at that strength has the capability of truly making a change in this world. So I pray that she’ll be comforted enough to recycle that loss into a cause at some point, and that the cause will change people’s lives. And when she gets reunited with her baby, I know she’ll whisper softly, “Your life changed other people’s lives, my sweet baby. They lived better because of you, happier because of you, healthier because of you. You really made a difference. I’m here with you, now. We’ll never be apart.”
Beckett, this month I am thinking of Ruby Jane and Maddie, and millions of other babies (many of them belonging to my friends, and some to family) that were taken way too soon. I hope to honor them through my parenting of you and your sister. I intend to always remember their beautiful mothers for their contribution to this world – the lives of their angel babies and their precious stories.
This month you are 9 months old. Nine months I have been blessed with your night wakings, messy diapers, sticky hands, and whiny noises. I want you to know that sometimes I complain and some days are very hard, but I will always be deeply thankful for every second I have with you. Every second I get as your mother.
I am living better, happier, and healthier for you because of Ruby Jane and Maddie.
Sissy feeding you. She loves you so much.