Last night, you woke crying. Sobbing you pushed me away, although holding you, I wasn’t allowed to come near. You cried and you pushed me. Into Baba’s arms you jumped; then straight back to me, the way you always seem to do. You need to leave me to remember me, my strong-willed, independent toddler-man.
Dearest M, you’re 18months old today. A year and a half. Where on earth has that time flown away to. As I watch your most recent pose, a slouched back relax, hands folded behind your back, hair unruly, eyes squinted intently I feel such joy at the passing of time, unveiling as it moves the composure of the boy my baby is becoming too soon; I feel longing for the boy leaving babyhood and this posture he’ll move on from soon, too.
When you’re tired, or angry, in pain or frustrated, you won’t let my heart pull you near. In ways that I fear you remind me of me, determined to push through on your own. It’s only when Baba comes, or I close the door between us, breaking the hold that our arms hold around us that you realise the arms were there all along.
But as soon as you realise, allow yourself to fall literally into the embrace, I feel your heartbeat pitter-patter to the beat of my own. God willing Babyone, wherever you are, however strong the hinges stand between us, the pitter-patter will be the same and ever-present.
Your pain was from your fingernail, falling off after a graze on a forest adventure day. No more than a second passed between my realising the problem and your sobs calming down; it wasn’t the pain taking you over, but the fear you couldn’t express the pain that you felt. Whatever your age, whatever your pain, I promise you, my stubborn one, I will always take the burden with you.
Once the hanging nail had been trimmed back and antibiotic cream squeezed liberally to your finger, you had no need anymore for these arms which protected. As you jumped from me to your Baba, pointing enthusiastically at the TV, knowing faithfully that despite the clocks 3am chimes he’d give permission for Luli and a middle night snack, I felt my heart take a leap as a smile spread over my face. This independence, MKM, will lead you well through your life inshallah. Never be afraid to take the biggest leaps, never lose the faith that I’m always there to fall right back on, and never stop pushing your luck. If what you desire is not harmful to you or to others, if it doesn’t inconvenience or aggravate, if it will bring pleasure, however fleeting, to you or someone else, never stop asking for what your soul asks of you daily. Happiness doesn’t need to be long-lasting, doesn’t need to be fuelled by purpose or intellect, and is yours to define for yourself.
At 18 months old, my sweetest MKM
you are demanding and stubborn and willful
loving and gentle and enthusiastically real.
You enjoy baking
and screwdrivers and pins
opening DVD cases and cupboard doors and turning taps on:
You love spiderman
and car wheels.
You believe baths should be combined with long showers
that bubbles should reach right to the top.
You think food tastes much better when also smooshed in your hair
and still believe olives alone can sustain.
You wake at 5am to sleep at 7pm
You slide your arms behind my back, pull my body tightly into your side as I feed your brother
reaching over to push him back on if he pauses for breath, or to push his nose and laugh as his eyes gaze up at you.
Your spin your whole self round in circles, faster and faster and faster until you fall.
You run towards us, T and I, your face taken over by a smile of sheer delight, knowing you’ll be picked up and spun round;
Then as you reach us, turn on your heels, run and hide
You enjoy scribbling with markers and scrawling with chalk; coloured pencils merely perplex you, crayons too, take too much work.
You’d rather paint on my canvas than onto plain paper, prefer water to the colours on a pallet or paper plate.
You’re becoming expert at play-doh ball rolling and pipe cleaner twists.
You bring out the best and the worst that is in me,
you’re my greatest pleasure, my biggest test and deepest fear.
You are the first of my children and the most astounding of dreams realised.
You are my baby, still, though your own person in being. I’m so proud and so in love with you.