My hands fold the two seams together – the tips of my fingers glide smoothly over the fabric and the pile of laundry gradually grows smaller. I work quietly; thoughts tumble through my head, lists of things I’ve accomplished and still need to get done. I hum a tune as I work and finally I’m left with nothing but a few mismatched socks and a baby bib whose journey to the laundry hamper is a mystery. I haven’t seen this particular bib in years.
It’s a plain pale yellow. It was one of the first things I bought when I discovered I was pregnant. I didn’t know then that I was having a boy, or that he would arrive earlier than expected. I had no idea the challenge he would be or how my life would change. I didn’t know that I could love someone so much.
It’s been five years since I stuck a package of bibs in my Wal-Mart shopping cart. For five years I’ve lived with a heart so full it aches with every beat.
How can I ever explain how much you mean to me, Gabriel? How do I sum up five years of terrifying beauty?
There are things about you that have changed radically. You no longer harbour any baby chub; and it physically hurts to receive your ferocious bear hugs. That smooth and soft being you once were has evolved. You are now sharply defined; a foreshadow of the man you will become, more so, than a shadow of the baby you were.
When your first true milestone unceremoniously fell from your mouth and was placed in my upturned palm I wanted to weep. I was full of joy at the idea of your first tooth fairy visit, but I could also no longer deny your metamorphosis. The roots of adulthood grow unimpeded through the gummy remains of your infancy, and maybe I mourned a little.
But there are things that remain the same. From the moment you were a minute old emotions were never hidden. I believed, at first, that you would outgrow this trait; instead its the foundation of who you are. You are not ashamed to express how you feel or afraid of the repercussions it could produce. You are brave and lovely and I wish I could be more like you.
As I finished folding that tiny bib and placed it upon your pile, you flew around the corner. You stopped short as you took in the scene before you. Your smile was radiant and so full of gratitude.
“Wow Mom” you murmured, “You did such a good job. Look! You cleaned up all the clothes!”
Tears threatened to cascade down your cheeks as you stood praising my efforts.
“Well thank you for noticing” I replied.
I pulled you into my arms. Your bony shoulder dug painfully into my hip but I just squeezed harder.
“Thanks Mom, for everything you do”
“You’re worth it, Kiddo” I whispered.
And you are. You really are.