I don’t always think it’s fair that my kids aren’t babies anymore. Jacob used to curl up in my arms, wriggle around until he found his spot, sigh, and fall asleep. And I would hold him and do everything possible to avoid laying him down. My kids were (are) probably held too much by conventional standards (though not by attachment parenting standards), but I can’t help myself. Jacob is always on the go, so I usually have to tackle him or wait for him to be very tired to snuggle him. Izzy still loves her time with momma and curls up to me, but with so much to do and see, she’s got to be moving too. And my sweet little Zach. This little guy is moving along, and doesn’t always sit for a snuggle anymore. And it hurts my heart. They grow up too fast, and I want to get all the holding in I can before they really don’t let me do it.
From the beginning of my motherhood adventure, I’ve wanted one of them to stay a baby forever. To keep that baby smell, to have someone look up at you with blind admiration, love, and trust, to have that squishy baby fat all over and those cheeks and ears to nibble on. And the toes. I love baby toes. There’s no way to change it, they grow like weeds. Cliche, but true. Instead of getting one of those creepy lifelike babies so I can hold on to this feeling forever, I’m going to move on, let my kids grow up, and enjoy knowing that diapers aren’t forever.
I should say, Jake and Izzy have grown up quickly. Zach and all that he has faced has kept him a baby for much longer. By my best estimates, my 17 month old is developmentally and physically more like an 8 month old. It is impossible to know if his delays are from meningitis or polymicrogyria, or a combination of the two, but regardless, my toddler doesn’t toddle. And that makes me sad too.
No, that’s not accurate–it is heartbreaking. I see friends with kids born around the same time, and they are so different from where Zach is. It’s hard to get on Facebook and see a friend post that her ten month old is walking or talking, or feeding himself and not feel a twinge of resentment, jealousy, or anger. Zach is 17 months and still trying to master crawling. He doesn’t know the frustration (or if he does, he hides it well), but his mom has to decide how to answer the puzzled looks on strangers’ faces when they learn he’s 17 months and not eight months. As the script goes, I always tell them about meningitis, but do I go into polymicrogyria? And I get sick of the “awe, poor” blah blah blah crap. I got tired of that after my father died, and never understood (still don’t) why I’m trying to make them feel better about it. They aren’t living it!
In my irrational mind, I can’t help but wonder if I wished too hard for him to stay a baby, even in joking, and his delays are my fault. I know I can’t be blamed for contracting a virus that gave me viral encephalitis at a critical juncture of brain development while I was pregnant with him, nor can I be blamed for however he was exposed to haemophilus B that caused his bacterial meningitis. But what happens if a wish or desire is expressed so strongly that it causes some kind of karmic twist, that the wish comes true, but in order to get what you want, it comes about almost tragically? It’s almost like an unfinished thought. “I want this!” but it’s not thought out thoroughly. In my tired mom’s mind, the only example I can think of is from Aladdin, when Jafar wishes to become a genie and have all of the power, only to discover after his wish is granted what else goes along with that (if you read my last post, you’d see that we don’t have cable right now, but we have had a lot of rain, meaning we have watched a LOT of movies. A lot of kid movies. I need to mail back my Netflix). Why, in my logical mind, could I not see that for a child to stay a baby forever, it would mean severe and almost tragic delays? Who would wish that on a child?
Now, I know I didn’t cause it by wishing too hard (though I harbor the standard mother’s guilt, and no matter what, will feel guilty for both him having had meningitis and having polymicrogyria for the rest of my life). Zach is who he is and is absolutely perfect despite what anyone else says. In a sick and twisted way, I got my wish. My non-toddling toddler will be a baby for a while longer. So, what can I do with my absurd wish of keeping a baby a baby forever? I am going to snuggle that boy until he wiggles his way out of my arms. I am going to kiss him and nuzzle his head and nibble on his ears for longer, because I can. I’m going to help him progress, give him his exercises, and everything he needs, but I am going to savor every last minute of it, because not only do I want to, but he deserves it.
Lately he seems to be catching up a little more quickly, and it is bittersweet. I no longer want my kids to stay babies forever because I’m living the reality, and am happy to be escaping this reality, albeit slowly. His milestones are more meaningful (sorry Jake and Iz) because who knew he would be able to reach them. So, just in case there is this karmic void that serves hopeless wishers bitter justice, I will change my wish to this: That Zach will develop and progress at a reasonably acceptable rate. Nice and bland. Karma shouldn’t even notice it. Muahahaha.