Dear Baby Boy of Mine,
You’re almost 9 months old now, and this is the first letter I’ve written to you since before you were born. Your big sister had a whole book of letters from me by this point in her life, a kitschy spiral-bound notebook with the words, “Life is a journey, not a destination,” on the front. I wrote in her book every week, sometimes even daily, pouring my heart out through my pen as I recorded the details of her early life. I’m sorry I haven’t done the same for you. It might seem like she is the favored one, the spoiled first-born who gets all the attention and all the memories. Someday you will quiz me on how old you were when you got your canine teeth, or what your first sentence was, or what outfit you wore for your second birthday. And here’s the truth: I probably won’t remember those things. But don’t worry; I won’t remember all of those things about your sister either.
I wish I could hold on to it all. Sometimes at the end of the day, when I’m rocking you to sleep in your room, and the last drops of sunlight are just barely illuminating your pudgy silhouette, I try desperately to take it all in. I breathe in the smell of your golden brown hair as it takes on that unmistakable smell of “sleeping baby”. I trace your cheek with my finger, and feel the weight of your warmth in my arms, and sense the rhythm of our breathing as your chest rises and falls on my own. It’s such a beautiful moment. I know it won’t be mine for long. It will leave my memory the same way that all the other nights before it have gone: slowly. Quietly. A little bit each day. Each memory becomes a new one, never exactly as it was the night before, because YOU are never again exactly the same. Your cheek changes shape, your hair is slowly growing in thicker and lighter, your silhouette changing from pudgy baby to stretched out toddler. All of those little details that I adore about you are always being replaced and updated and added to as you grow.
But I promise you this: Memory is NOT an indicator of significance. Even though I may not remember every detail of every day of your life, make no mistake, I absolutely treasured you.
Instead of writing in a spiral-bound book for you like I did for your sister, I try to capture everything with my camera, documenting each month and each smile and each vacation and each milestone. My heart is hoping that a JPEG is permanent and will make up for the failures of my memory. When you see all 10,000 pictures from your first year of life (what do I DO with them all? Someone in the future will know…), I hope it is clear to you that I cherished your babyhood. I’m soaking it in. I live it and breathe it and sleep with you in my heart and on my mind. I always will. All these little details of your early years, your milestones and triumphs, your joys and sorrows, your growth and development, will all swirl together in my brain, a beautiful blurry masterpiece of who you once were. It is a part of who I am, the very fabric of my heart.
I hope you know that being your mama is the best thing I will ever do in life. I hope you know that the only reason that I don’t remember every detail is because there are just TOO MANY wonderful, beautiful, memorable moments. I can’t hold on to it all. So instead, I hold on to you.