Note: I clearly wrote this a week plus ago, but couldn’t find the above photo, and then forgot and so am late in posting it.
Archer turned nine months old last Thursday. This month-day, more than any of his others, seems so significant to me, and I’ve been rolling it over and over in my head. Perhaps because it makes everything even: nine months inside of me, nine months separated, and the last 18 months with my body almost wholly sustaining him in some way. It has occurred to me that as every day passes he grows farther way from me, farther away from my body and that time we shared the same space, farther away from his little self who curved perfectly into my chest and stomach in those sleepless weeks after his arrival. Matthew says I need to not mourn his aging so much, but instead be grateful for it, and I am. I so am. It’s just… with every new development, every passing month, I am aware we are moving toward a time when we will no longer revolve around each other. His orbit will shift and rightly so, and widen, but for these months he has consumed my world, and I have been his North Star.
A board member asked me last week how old Archer was, and after I told him, this gentleman asked me, ‘How do people without children know they’re getting older?’
I told him I don’t know, not because there aren’t other ways to mark the passing of time, but because I have never been so aware of myself growing older as I have been since becoming a mother. Growing older isn’t a bad thing, and neither is being aware of it (unless I am in constant mourning, as Matthew worries), but it does mean I realize that the farther Archer moves away from me, the more I must someday prepare him for the time when he will lose me.
There is absolutely nothing like the realization that because of you, your child will feel pain. Because you asked for this gift, you must also prepare yourself for the consequences of what you have done. And one of the ultimate pains you cannot protect your child from is your own death.
And yet I am so unbelievably grateful for Archer, for his presence in my life, and for these eighteen months in which we have perfectly, quietly, completely inhabited the same point in time. In my mind’s eye, it is as though we have been housed within a dimly lit room, as in Elliott Erwitt’s photo of his wife and child, and now the door has been opened and the too-bright sunlight is now streaming in. Through my squinting, I can see only my son’s toothy grin.