M is nearly eight years old now. He is tall and thin, standing at five feet tall and weighing eighty pounds. Even still, when we read together in his room, he insists upon snuggling in my lap. He barely fits and he pulls his arms and legs in tight in order to perch himself upon my legs. I cradle his freshly shampooed head in one arm and hold the book with the other and I wonder for how much longer I will be able to hold his ever-growing body.
We read the book and I feel the heaviness of M's body as he begins to relax.. My legs are numb and I can no longer feel my toes, yet I am not willing to give up the tangled heap of arms and legs within the space of my lap.
I kiss his head and I tell him that he is getting to be so big. I tell him about how tiny he was when he was a baby. I tell him about how I used to hold him in the rocking chair and give him his bottle. How I used to pat his back until he'd fall asleep in my arms.
As I am speaking, I realize that I have never told M any of this. I have never told M about what he was like as a baby;about how slowly he ate and how much he slept and how he rarely cried.
Miss J loves to hear stories about when she was a baby. Though she's hear my stories a thousand times, she still enjoys listening to me tell her about how alert she was, how she was a fantastic eater and spoke her first word at just seven months old. How she was energetic and had little need for sleep and would cry to be taken outdoors.
I have never told M any of this because I am not sure of what M understands. M's world is the here and now with little care for the past or future. He sees pictures of himself and tells me that the photo is of a baby, but he's never acknowledged that the baby in the photo is himself.
It doesn't matter. Right now, I have M's attention. M is calm and still and listening to my words. It doesn't matter because M tells me, "I'm your baby, Mama." This, he knows and that is what matters most to me.