I've been writing a post in my head about the time when Andrew is at his most babyish...right when he wakes up from his nap.
His hair is usually matted down with sweat. As soon as I scoop him up from the crib, he tucks his arms in between my chest and his belly, sticks his bottom out, and burrows his head into my neck, so he's a compact little ball of sleepy sweetness. We go to the kitchen, where I fix him a bottle with one hand, holding him tight with the other. Sometimes he cries until the bottle is ready; sometimes he cries when the bottle is ready, because to take the bottle means to spit out the naptime passy. Either way, he'll eventually latch on to that bottle and drink with all his might. And he'll watch me out of the corner of his eye the whole time. It reminds me so much of our happy nursing times. I like to think that it reminds him, too. When he's finished the bottle, he usually sits for a few moments, snuggled up close to me, breathing deeply and fluttering his eyes. All too soon, though, he's fully awake and sliding off my lap to run and play in his most toddlerish way.
I'd been mulling over a post about these reversion to babyhood moments, because they are so tender and dear to me. I can feel them slipping away, and it's painful. There are times I just want to keep him my baby forever. And then, this morning happened.
Andrew had been running around crazy, throwing balls, climbing furniture, and standing hands-free on the seat of his scooter. He suddenly broke away from his play, and came to me with his fingers interlocked and his little palms smushed together. It took me a second to realize that his hands were clasped in prayer. We've been saying the traditional Catholic blessing before every meal, ever since he started solid foods. Just recently, he's begun clasping his hands together when he lands in the highchair. And now, here he was, starting in on the blessing an hour after breakfast. I asked if he wanted to say the blessing and he gave me his standard "yeh-yeh-yeh." So we did. Then he trotted over to his highchair, pulled his bib off the tray and brought it to me, with his neck stretched out. I figured he knew where this was headed, so I put his bib on him. Next, he led me by the hand, and with lots of finger-pointing, to the pantry, where he pointed at the box of cereal bars and said, "Bah. Bah. Bah." Bar in hand, he rushed back to the highchair and waited for me to lift him into it. All settled in for his snack, he proceeded to offer me every other bite of the bar and insist that I take a sip of water from his sippy cup. We shared a snack. He grinned from ear to ear. And the whole thing blew my mind.
Perhaps more than any other moment, I think this morning's little guy-led snack, complete with a blessing and a bib, reminded me that it is a great privilege to watch our children grow. Babyhood is magnificent, but there is still much sweetness to come.