Warning: This post is going to be incredibly soppy.
I love Sandy.
I really, really do.
You know what is incredibly frustrating? That that is the only way to say it, yet it really doesn’t do how I feel about him even 1% justice.
This is well trodden ground between Stuart and I. We spend our time when he’s not there (and often when he is) talking about how amazing we think our boy is. Then we laugh about how we spend all our Sandy-free time talking about you know who. It’s so hard not to though, he is our lives now. The reason we exist.
Sometimes I feel very, very lost and unsure of myself. I kind of lost myself when I had Sandy. I had an idea of who I was, I had an identity. I was a PhD student. I was married to Stuart. I liked certain activities and I disliked others. Then I had Sandy and I became his Mum and all the other stuff just melted away into insignificance. I used to be to some extent interested in politics, for example. I’d be happy to take part in a debate, or Stuart and I would mock the news together, confirming our agreement in world views. Now political debate seems like a foreign language. I really don’t notice the way politicians are dealing with floods, because it doesn’t pertain directly to Sandy. It’s sad, but true.
Sometimes when we are alone, one of us will pipe up with a familiar discourse:
“You know who I love?”
And the other will smile knowingly and suggest:
“Molly?” (Our cat)
The other laughs:
“Yes, but that’s not who I was thinking of…”
And this goes on and on. We sing songs about him. We remind eachother of funny things he did that day. We lapse into our favourite go to of “he’s getting so big” “no he’s not, he’s my newborn baby” and a faux debate over just how old he actually is.
He is getting big though. We go back to these rhymes and thoughts of when he was little because we are so secure in loving him as he is now. When he was a tiny baby there was the love, of course there was. It was an insane love where no rationale or sanity could prevail. It was a fog of ecstacy. It was almost chemical. I loved my baby, but I was yet to really know Sandy. Now he’s himself. He has such character. I look at some other children and they seem so devoid of life. I don’t mean to be mean, maybe it’s just how I see them as opposed to Sandy. Maybe Sandy is just overfilled with life in comparison.
I never liked children. I failed to understand how to communicate with them. There were no babies in my small family as I grew up. I never wanted to look in the pram or coo. For some reason I always wanted children though, in the same way I wanted to grow up and learn to drive and buy a house. It seemed right, and exciting. But when faced with babies I found myself so uncomfortable, under the scrutiny of those who knew how to do it all, holding the little lump awkwardly, failing to feel any lovey dovey feelings. My in-laws would all try hard to get Stuart’s nephew (then 2) to not be scared of me, but nevertheless he’d run from me so fast he’d bash his head off of things and I’d sit there feeling like even my presence, without any indication I wanted to interact with him, alienated the little one.
So did it all change with Sandy? Yes and no. Yes, because I ceased to feel nothing to all children. Here was my child and I felt EVERYTHING. And I wasn’t clumsy, not even at the start, I knew how to hold him because he felt like a part of me, in the way I know how to use my arm. And I could provide him with things no-one else ever could, and that gave me immense confidence. I rarely remember feeling out of my depth with him. But still I look at other children and I don’t feel that hormonal rush I always felt I was missing. Sure, I find some other children nice. Friends babies, Sandy’s little cohort, ones that do things that remind me of him… but I see the toddler lump sitting in its pushchair at B&Q, inanimate and glazed over, not asleep but surely not quite awake either, as it’s parents discuss wallpapers. And then I see my Sandy. He’s running, he’s climbing, he’s shouting out and asking questions in his own language. He’s asking to be swung about, and wanting to explore. How easy it is to love him.
I came to the computer to type this because I felt the love bursting out of me and I long again for a way to let it escape into something that feels worthy of it. There are some vents for this. I put out his toys or alter them, thinking of what he might like. I make up his lunch carefully, picking his favourites, trying to encourage new foods, shaping fruit with a knife to the shape of his little perfect hands. I sit to type this and know there are no words that can explicitly reveal the depth of my feelings for him, but I keep going because maybe just rambling will help expose something, just a tiny bit of the true extent of my love.
There are so many moments when I feel as though his just being himself fills me right up. Every time he grins and you can see his front teeth. When you face the iPad camera to take some selfies, and he sees himself, and immediately touches his nose. When he haphazardly repeats a word you said (shoes, hoover, ta) and the perfect babyness of his little voice is just too cute to cope with.
On Saturday he was eating his breakfast and Stuart put on some music. He put classical on. We really don’t listen to classical music, we know nothing, but we thought we should start. The first song comes on and Stuart starts to do some interpretive dance. Sandy watches, at first quizzical, and soon a broad smile forms on his face. And Stuart sees the smile and elaborates, and Sandy giggles, and soon he’s in fits of laughter as Stuart bounds around the room. So we get him down from the highchair and soon we are all holding hands in a circle bouncing round and round until we fall over and then you realise just how happy that little boy is and you can’t imagine anything more satisfying than making those chuckles come out of him.
I want to record everything. Every little thing he does. I know time has come already when I’m forgetting things. At first each day was unique and had it’s own feel in memory. Then it became weeks and soon months. Now the whole first year of his life seems only to fall into two catagories, before we moved and after. Maybe there is just more to remember now he’s more interactive, but I worry that so many important feelings have been lost in my brain forever. I wrote in his baby book when he was a month or two old, trying to capture the way I felt in the first few days following his birth. The way he smelled like parma violets after his first bath, and how the sun broke through the blinds on our first day at home, welcoming him. The sound of bagpipes… I’m so glad I did. But it’s only a page or two in a book. Nowadays I could fill entire volumes in just an hour. All the little things he does. The way he takes interest in a crumb on the floor, and squats down to prod it. Or how when we are out walking he systematically goes to every puddle in turn, steps in it, and then proceeds to the next one. How today I asked him to bring the bottles of milk at the front door to the fridge for me and he very seriously picked them up and carefully carried them through, handing me them and checking me as I put them in. Sometimes he is doing his thing, playing or whatever and he sees me. He looks at me and then he smiles and he runs to me. He throws himself at me and he kisses me and there is such joy in being wanted so much that it hurts to even think about it.
I remember when I first met Stuart and we started going out that I hated being away from him. He would work and we would meet on his lunch break, spending every single minute we could together before he went back to the office. And then there I would be at 5pm outside, and our hands would go together and I felt the disconcerting feeling of being apart turn into complete contentment to have him back with me. About six months into our relationship I went to New York with my Mum and Aunts for five days. Then he flew to Florida with his family for two weeks. The way the flights over lapped, we didn’t see eachother in between. It’s horrible to say that part of the time I was in New York – a fabulous holiday by all accounts – I was whittling the time away, waiting to get back to him. And when I was home and he was gone it hurt. I was waiting and waiting and I felt like I couldn’t even remember his face anymore. Three weeks is all it was. I’d never felt anything that strongly before.
Well here we are eighteen months into Sandy’s life and I still feel that hurt whenever he’s gone. He’s obviously never gone that long so I the pain can’t really seep in. But he sleeps over on fridays and when he is almost here I feel tense. I hear the doorbell and see his outline in his Gran’s arms through the frosted glass and I become a child in my giddyness shouting to Stuart “SANDY’S HOME!!!!” It’s berserk. I never feel entirely comfortable when he’s not with me. Even when he’s in bed sometimes, metres away, I have this overwhelming urge to check he’s ok. I constantly worry that he needs me and I can’t hear him. Everything that can hurt now hurts so much worse. Minor injuries remain in my memory as horrific events, and you see every possible way he could ever be compromised just before things happen.
I suppose I just feel so much more now I’ve had him. It’s quite a hindrance in many ways, I feel my skin has become so thin, that any little thing someone says, any little look towards me or Sandy or Stuart that is in anyway imperfect has the potential to make me cry. The other day a man said “hello ginger” to Sandy. It’s a pet peev this commenting on his hair colour thing and I felt the comment, which was pre-sandy rather unremarkable, singe into me burning in pain. Honestly? Sandy doesn’t know any better, but the idea that anyone would ever say anything that could ever be taken as even slightly negative to him hurts worse than knives. A little boy at the soft play (who was probably 3) didn’t like Sandy’s friendly (and not very full on) advances. He didn’t want to play with him. Sandy played on his own quite happily but the little boy kept going over to Sandy saying “go away”. Children being children and all that, no big deal. But Sandy was stood at the entrance and the boy pointed to him and said “bad boy” and I had this sudden surge of pain and anger that swept through my body. My child, my perfect little guy, being called bad. I’ve never known someone so the opposite of that word. Imagine acting on every feeling you get, the world would be awash with insane women. It’s like how female animals with young get very aggressive where ordinarily they would be rather placid. It’s something deep down you can’t wipe.
I never felt very womanly as a person. I was brought up not as a girl but a child and I am incredibly grateful to my parents for that. I never thought of myself as the girl to my brother’s boy and we did the same things. I found myself often shocked at being treated differently and still find inequalities rather a big deal as they seem so contrary to my nature. I never felt feminine and it used to quite jar me. I felt lacking in some part of the identity the world thought I should have and therefore incomplete. I didn’t like wearing dresses and heels but I did, so the world thought I should. I’d spend a decent amount of time feeling not quite me.
But as much as having Sandy changed who I am, it was for the better. I know what it is to be a woman now and it has nothing to do with curves or waxing or liking pink wine. It’s something I can’t describe but that feeling when the child calls Sandy a bad boy, that’s how I know what it is. Before I had a sense of myself and it was a conglomeration of who I actually was and who I thought people imagined I should be. Now I am still such a conglomeration but it’s one made up of who I am and who I need to be for Sandy. I doubt I will ever be able to find who I am 100% because when he emerged and his little pink wrinkly body was placed on my chest, he took over a part of me that will never be relinquished. And I imagine come May another big chunk will be handed over forever to another little being, still to show themselves to me, but loved with such intense ferocity that is so strong that words will never be able to accurately describe it.
I love Sandy. That’s all I can really say.