On Monday, this past first day of the rest of my life, I panicked. As though I was back in my first few months with a newborn; what do I do now? nothing is fun! send it back! With a half hour’s thought I quickly fell back into my old routine. It’s only been 9 months, after all, since we did some variation of this every day:

go out
come home
go out
come home
ohthankgod! dad is home

That day we went to the park to see the ducks. Woefully unprepared, I watched Trombone stomp through puddles that were not just dirt and rain but also goose shit. And pigeon shit. And seagull shit. I cringed just a little when he stomped so heartily as to splash my feet and, more importantly, the pants that I am wearing every day until the hippo births. I tugged at his hood to prevent him from throwing himself whole-soulfully into the duck pond. We sat on a bench and shared a banana and a slice of bread. When he was done snacking, he said, “Oh – KAY!” and hopped off the bench, renewed.

It’s hard to explain what it feels like to be the solo caregiver again. To feel at once nervous about the responsibility but also at peace because I know I can do it and because it is so much better right now than it has been for the past 9 months. To be getting to know my son again, not in snippets via other people but in full-contact, endless days and total immersion. Sometimes, truthfully, I am not conscious of the line between the mundane and the sublime, so drunk am I on his earnest retelling of the day’s events and so delighted by his greeting the squirrels in the park as enthusiastically as he greets me in the morning.

Not that I stopped loving or understanding or caring for Trombone during the time I was back at work. Just that I didn’t have enough time to truly appreciate his beauty. There was no time to dawdle. We had point B to get to.

I had forgotten what bliss it is to just have time. To go where we want, to take as long as we want to get there, to read 18 books in a row. To let him sleep till he’s done. To let him eat bowl after bowl after bowl of cereal. What else do we have to do?

Which is not to say I’m not grateful for naptime. Or the moments when we don’t talk.

In this first week together, we have been so gentle, so lovely with each other. There has been more sleep and fewer tantrums. I can see where our frantic daily routine for the past year has really messed the boy up. Running constantly does make you feel like a hamster in a spinny wheel, complete with bared teeth and a tendency to run for dark corners every time someone opens your cage door.

Our exclusive time is scheduled to end in the next few weeks, when the New Baby of New Baby fame arrives. Till that day, I am trying to just enjoy these days together. Ambling down paths in the late afternoon, digging holes in dirt piles, discussing his favourite book’s plot and characters ad nauseum, moving gracefully towards the day’s end instead of barreling through each and every 24 hours in search of the weekend, of respite.

Physically, I am limited. I can’t run with him down the street or lift him over my head or even change his diaper in less than 10 minutes. But emotionally I am completely available and totally free. The endearments trip off my tongue. I want to give him all of me while I can because I know one day I won’t have it all to offer. And one further, farther-off day, he won’t accept. For now, we are happy in our bubble together.

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