Bathtub smiles and his smiles in general melt my heart like a popsicle on a hot southern summer day. Little B is starting to smile and when he does, I cash in like a multi-million dollar lottery winner. There is nothing so far in my life, except my husband’s touch, that makes me so incredibly calm with such a sense of grace. Pure love cascades over me like the lower falls of Yellowstone – powerful and strong with a pull so pure it can only be created by the master.
These smiles are random and not predictable, which makes them all the more rare. I used to watch those moms making those weirdo faces at their babies, thinking to myself, Does she know how stupid she looks? Her face looks like a yo-yo she is pulling back and forth. Then after my jaded, infertile, wanting a child so badly, stuffed head and heart, would bleed – Wow! That woman is somewhere I have never been – somewhere beautiful – somewhere pure. She is in the metaphorical Shangra- La. She is sitting under a figurative waterfall overlooking a deep ocean blue. She is in love. That’s what she is. In the undeveloped, deep woods of her purest love – the love of her child. No wonder she looks stupid to me – she doesn’t care. All she cares about is conjuring that smile from her baby muse.
I get it now. I once had a fight with a friend of mine. Over beers and thirty something shrugs, she spoke about the love of her child. How it can’t be measured and how intense it is and like nothing she has ever felt. The raw, jaded, infertile, wanting a child so badly, stuffed head and heart that protects me from these questions and comments, took over, gruffing out how the love of a parent or spouse can be that deep. For that was all I knew. This love for Little B bends in the thrid dimension, fusing with light from another galaxy, fusing with my heart in a way that makes me stronger, more beautiful, more complete than anything I can even think of.
So back to bathtub smiles, rubber duckies, and shoulder hugs. He is starting to kick his legs in the water and splash about. It is darling. I cherish this time I have with him this summer, as I plan on going back to work full-time in the fall. I have the summer off so I am very lucky and he certainly planned his entrance into this world well, giving me six weeks off from the end of the school year and then a smooth transition into three months of summer. I am taking in each hug, each bath, and each smile with open arms and open hearts.
It doesn’t end with tub time. After he is rinsed off, I wrap him in his baby bath towel and absorb, with my swollen t-shirt, the excess water as I hold him against my heart. So pure this exchange, that I feel just as clean as him. I place him on his changing table and pat him dry, put on a fresh diaper as I talk with him, answering his coos and quacks with my own riddles and rhymes. I strap him into his safety belt on the changing table and go to his closet where his little boy outfits hang. How sweet they are as they drip off the hanger with his scent and size. I pick an outfit – today was his onesie, “Chicks dig me” – cause they just do. When he was in the nursery with the other babies, he snagged three girls numbers! ha ha. All dressed now, he looks up at me. I am not prepared, taken by his charm, he smiles at me. I break from time and am released to the third dimension where this love exists and can not be explained. I touch the intangible with my heart. It bleeds buttercups and daisies in white forests. And a veil of the purest lotion covers me soft, as if my heart is now cashmere. I take a minute to stroke the soft fabric that floats by invisible. Magic is the only explanation.
What is even more magical is how I now understand his cries and fussy noises now. After his bath and getting him dressed. He was fussing. Not happy on his play mat, almost disturbed by the inflatable ball that attaches to his play gym mat. I sweep him into my arms knowing he is just tired and needs to go down for a nap. I take him from the living room to the nursery and put on the Celtic dreamland songs and place him over my left shoulder (his favorite spot). He nestles in like a kitty cat and we are driving along the best road I know: mother and son, in unison.
I sing to him as I hum along, making up words to the song that has such a sweet melody. He drifts off to sleep. I dance in the magic once more, realizing this is just as good as it gets. Can I freeze this and put it my heart? It is chiseled deep in memory. When I am old and senile – this is the memory that I want to float back to, to rock me to sleep.