I have lived delight.
And a breaking away of time. Those 184 rotations happened, surely, but sometimes I glance out the window and it is startling to see the clover, so lush and purple-budded, instead of white. Perhaps it is because Elliot came to us in this northern land when everything was insular and tucked away and, for the most part, still. What I do know is that despite my denial, he has grown as quickly as the clover, observant and beautiful and steadfast, and I love him more than all the other studied and cultivated sections of my wild-garden life.
I might have anticipated this, but I could not have anticipated him, this person.
It's bewildering, really: what it means to be a mother, to be his mother, to still be me.
On the night of the solstice--a dusk that goes on and on--I leave El sleeping with his papa, and I walk with the same steps, the exact same lightness that I felt at twenty-one, sneaking out of a clapboard cabin at 5:30 in the morning and tiptoeing through dew and fog to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, just so I could watch the sunrise in that unruly quiet. Just so I could feel the vibrations in my body, the way everything that mattered ran without motors into the perfect dawn. I walk with those same steps, the same sandals even, down the avenues and trails of my domestic neighborhood, and I am humming with that same energy, that same ease. I look up and the sky. The sky! It is just as big.
And days later I am out with Elliot along a lake, and a boy of about ten zooms toward us on his bike. He is wiry and tan, flip-flops and a baseball cap. When he passes us, he gives me a perfect smile, a perfect hello, a perfect pump of his pedals, and I think, You are my son. I see a boy at the park, flinging himself down the tallest slide, and I think, You are my son. I watch teenagers at the parade, flaunting and flirting, and I can hardly believe it, but I believe it: My sons. I see my husband more clearly than I ever have, all the way back to his days as a first-born blue-eyed boy brought home to Deep Lake. Elliot shifts in my arms--the wind off the water, the sun, the leaves skipping from shadows to light--and as I hold him I feel very old. It is one thing to watch a sunrise. It is another to bear the weight of all the sunrises and sunsets that your boy will ever know.
The heaviness and the lightness. I oscillate between them at such speeds that it is no wonder motherhood sometimes leaves me feeling dazed.
And yet I wake in the morning to baby noises--bleary-eyed, wrinkled, startled from some dream--and I go to this child. The light is sifting in through the blinds. I blink and I blink. The dream is still there, on the periphery of my consciousness, and it's funny because on most days it feels like it never fully leaves. Instead it floats around me like particulates, trails my body like streaks of cosmic dust, and it follows me into the space where my son is.
I see him and he sees me.
And then we are both smiling with perfect ease, both making sounds from our memories of each other and of moments we haven't yet experienced, from Chesapeake mornings, from big sky nights, from the sensation of the earth spinning and spinning and spinning on its finely pointed axis, 184 million times. When I reach for him, and he reaches for me, and I lift him up and the dream is still there, like the light, slipping all around us--six months feels almost silly. I have been this boy's mother my whole life.