Here we are at the 9-month mark… and Master J is commemorating the milestone with the first real mobility of his life. He’s been getting around remarkably effectively thanks to rolling for many moons now, but this morning he got himself from the sunroom to the courtyard by forward propulsion alone. It’s a commando crawl to be sure, like he’s dragging himself along a low Viet Cong tunnel, but it’s a crawl. And now he’s celebrating with a nap in his cot, so it’s a bit of a blue-sky day here and the day has barely begun (that’ll happen when it starts at 5.30 am…).
I thought I’d mark the occasion by sharing with you a number of things I love about him and about motherhood. Yes, let’s get giddy. I thought a bit of gush was long overdue, so I’m afraid you’ll either have to indulge me or look away.
Clearly in no order of priority:
- Cuddles. Master J is a very cuddly little Pooh. Feeling that warm little body snuggling close to mine, a little arm reaching around behind me and a chubby little hand grabbing the back of my t-shirt, makes everything else fall away.
- The sound of his laugh. He is soooo cheeky, and he is a genuine giggle-pot. I’m sure they must all have giggle fits, but I just haven’t heard other babies his age laugh as loud and as long as Mr. Hysterics over here. He is also either very ticklish or very quick to grasp the game and humour me, because going in for the killer tickle is guaranteed to produce peal upon peal of that outrageously beautiful laugh. He almost purrs at the end, it’s his signature of satisfaction and pleasure, and it makes my heart soar.
- His smile. Still toothless, his is the perfect gummy grin, and watching his whole face light up when either Llew or I walks into the room always threatens to overwhelm me. Unbridled joy at our mere presence: it’s rare, fleeting, and not to be missed for a pure bolt of fine feeling.
- His skin. I know, I know, all babies have such soft lovely skin, but Master J’s attracts an exceptional degree of comment, even from within my own Mothers’ Group. The other mothers often reach out and stroke his face and murmur about his skin, and strangers remark on it on a near daily basis. It’s not especially olive or especially fair or especially pink, so I’m not sure what the secret is, other than its silky smoothness, but you’ll have to take my word for it: he has special skin.
- His facial expressions. Master J is a very curious cat, and I love watching his brow furrow in consternation and his eyes widen in surprise. He likes seeing what he can see, see, see, and has made something of an art form of studying the world as it appears over my shoulder. He always looks primed for a very pleasant surprise; whatever it is that’s happening over there, he’s well up for it. I can’t carry him anywhere for very long these days, but I’ll miss it when I can no longer carry him at all, because there’s something very proud and optimistic about the jaunty way he rests one arm along my shoulder and takes in the scene. But there’s something to be said for observing his independent investigations, too. This morning’s solo expedition to the courtyard brought him in line with his shadow, which he proceeded to merrily pound as it lay helplessly pinned beneath him. When I picked him up and he began studying our combined shadow falling on the wall behind me, I swivelled around and waved, and he was just about demented with delight over that little trick. Then, back on the pavers, a gust of wind scattered petals and leaves across the courtyard, and he barely knew where to look. He loves being outside, and why not? Clearly it’s where all the action is.
- His efforts to talk. I love his burbling noises, his rude raspberries, his protests, his shouts, his ‘Ma-ma-mas,’ and the staccato rifle fire of his concerted effort to mimic the sound of my laugh. I love that when I sing my own version of the alphabet song to him (I don’t sing ‘A, B, C, D,’ I sing ‘Ah-ah-ah, Ba-ba-ba, Ca-ca-ca, Da-da-da’), he is utterly transfixed, watching my mouth carefully for clues as to how best to expand his repertoire. I can’t wait for him to talk to me, and I love how desperately hard he already tries.
- His sociability. He has been looking other babies in the eye for a long time now, and he cracks into the widest, most winning grin whenever another little one is brought into his sight line. He’s just delighted to see them, and I also appreciate that he doesn’t instantly lean in for a bit of an eye gouge, as some of the babies do. There’s one in my MG who reminds me of animals in the wild as captured in countless documentaries. Without fail this baby – a few weeks older than Master J at most – spies my beautiful boy across the room, immediately rears up, crashes over and smacks him down faster than you’d credit. I catch myself already worrying about that distant playground – will he be able to stand up for himself? How do I best equip him for that battlefield? He always looks so bewildered it just about breaks my heart. How do you explain that there’s going to be plenty more where that came from while trying to preserve the sunniness of his disposition?
- His eyes. He has very dark, knowing, ancient eyes that are altogether mischievous. It’s a deadly combination whenever he launches a charm offensive. No one is safe.
- His appetite in all things. Enough said.
- His perfect Master-J-ness. We didn’t know that it was him, that he was the little friend who was coming to join us, and yet he’s so absolutely himself, and so utterly impossible to imagine any other way that those days of not knowing it was him are hard to recall. It’s just that he makes so much sense of it, this state of being himself, that now it seems obvious – of course! Yes! You! Now we understand. It had to be him. It was always going to be him. We love him. We love him so much.