My daughter had her very first Mother’s Day yesterday, and it was powerful. I watched her all day basking in new motherhood, remembering the instant when he was pulled from her under all that sterile white surgery light, and looking forward to the mysterious string of years ahead with her son.
Her son. She spent every waking moment yesterday delighting in the gift of him and wondering how, years and years from now when he’s all hairy and mannish and wearing his cap backwards, how she’ll ever be able to let him go into his life without her. She talked about first days at school and terrible girls gathering, and how the hugs will be fewer.
He is a baby. Levi cruises around testing his periphery, his abilities, his almost-walking-alone freedom, and he falls down. A lot. As a spectator yesterday I watched my own daughter mothering, and what she didn’t know – what it’s so hard to explain – is that it happens by degrees. Levi took three fast steps yesterday, tottering and grinning and breathing hard, his fat fists in the air balancing like an infant tightrope walker. Three fast steps away from Mom and toward a footstool. That’s how it begins.
It’s easier to see the milestones when you’re not the mother and that is not your child. There he goes, I wanted to tell her, and he’ll never come back to you exactly the same boy who left. That’s the whole delight and ache of mothering, because at the same time there is my own baby, the one pulled from me in the white light of another room almost 22 years ago, and she’s having her turn now. A woman.
As a grandmother and a mother, I’m hoarding these moments.