Dinner

I love my son more than anything. If you’ve got one of those—a son, I mean, or a daughter—you probably hear what I’m saying.

I look into his eyes and I see my own eyes, and he looks so familiar that it almost feels painful. I look at his mouth and I see his father’s mouth, and that part is painful, too, because I want him to have somehow sprung entirely from me. I both resent sharing him with people and resent people who don’t want to share him. I love him so much that on Wednesday nights (the handoff nights), I tend to go into a deep dark place and I have to ask Marcus to hold me and stroke my hair.

“I need you to hold me and stroke my hair,” I actually say out loud, every time. Like I need to be treated like a child, like if the part that projects outward from me is gone, then at least I can revel in being the part that projects outward from someone else.

I love him so much that it feels like my chest is being pulled apart sometimes. I go in and stare at him while he’s sleeping and touch his perfect skin. I find it difficult to fully grasp the fact that he is an individual human who must, in order to be well-adjusted, love me an appropriate amount, but not a chest-pulling-apart amount. My brain knows that, I guess, but sort of like when you read flat words on a page and can’t quite get them to sink in, so you read it over and over and realize you’re just seeing letters and punctuation and stringing them together in a way you’ve known how to automatically do since you were a young child, but the other shoe hasn’t dropped yet, the ink hasn’t fully absorbed into the paper, the cake hasn’t set. It doesn’t MEAN anything. My boy will be different. My boy will be obsessed with his mother and still turn out healthy and brilliant and we will snuggle together at night when he is 30 and everyone will say, “How great of them to break that stereotype and push evolution forward in a way that makes it completely legit to be so in love with your mother."

I forget that I have already grown up and he hasn’t. I don’t want to snuggle with my mother, and I definitely don’t want to snuggle anywhere near my father. He has to snuggle now because he is a child. He will snuggle later on with some poor girl that I will probably torture because that is my job, and then he will snuggle with his own kids. And then he will mourn the fact that they aren’t direct extensions of him and he will think of me and realize that this is how I felt.

I love him with a love that is more than a love, it is a ferocious beast of a thing that turns me into a really brave woman. It also turns me into a weeping mess about a lot of other things (like commercials and sad movies and anything involving a child being in any sort of distress). It is an antidepressant and a depressant at the same time, it feels like a big warm light bulb in my chest that, if broken, will somehow shine light on everyone in the entire world, only breaking it would be too intense for humankind to bear, so it has to stay in my chest, fragile yet terrifyingly strong, the engine that propels me to be better, work harder, love other people more, too.

I love him to literal distraction. I can (and must) stare at pictures of him while I travel. I feel faint annoyance that I have the responsibility to turn him into a Good Citizen instead of spoil him, which is what I want to do. So instead I buy him a ton of pajamas, for some reason. He doesn’t care enough about them to have his personality ruined, but he likes them enough to smile. And when he’s sleeping and I’m staring at him and knowing it’s creepy and wondering when the age will be when it’s no longer justifiable, I can look at those pajamas and allow them to represent all this love that I don’t know what to do with. The love that sometimes I feel afraid of and all the time feel humbled by. It is shocking to me that just a few years ago, he didn’t exist, but I did.

But god fucking dammit, that little punk has got to stop refusing to eat dinner sometime soon, or I think I will truly lose my mind.

 

Richmond, Virginia