When we are home alone together, we do things like sit on our great-big couch, me eating what’s left of a vegetarian burrito with my left hand and you eating spinach and apples off of the spoon in my right. We watch the kind of TV that your dad would make fun of us for watching, and I sing louder than I would ever sing in front of anyone else. You are my only fan.
We make deals: I’ll get around to the dishes piling up in the sink (92% your bottles and 8% late-night tomato soup and saltine dinner dishes) if you hang out with me until at least 7pm. You dipped on your end of the deal tonight. Bathtime does it to you every time.
I ask you questions like how did two people like me and your father make a little red-head like you? And then I remember all the long talks we had when you were still in my stomach, and I was huge and uncomfortable (or not visibly pregnant and nauseous — but I don’t recall an intermediate stage), and I would rub lotion on your shell (it was soo itchy!) and we’d discuss you having blue eyes and being smiley and loving to talk. How you’d have lots of hair (we didn’t specify the color, but I think you made a wise choice) and how you’d love learning and music. You’ve kept all of those deals.
When it is just the two of us, the back of your head starts to get sweaty just before you fall asleep. You are wearing your yellow sleep sack, the one where the star is embroidered in the place that you’ll have shirt pockets when you are older. Your eyelids are heavy, and I touch the short, turned-up bridge of your nose and trace your kissing lips. I feel your weight in my arms, see the elf-bite out of your left ear and the little patch of dry skin near your right that so stubbornly will not leave — and I know you are real, that time is relevant, that there is purpose to life. That right here, right now, this is what it is to be alive.
I get it, Mom. I now why you’d never let me win the “I love you more” war. You win.