When I was pregnant I felt this immense and self-inflicted pressure to be especially nice to children. At eight months pregnant Aron and I took our furry son, Jeffery the dog, to a park for his kind called Wiggly Field. The park was packed with what seemed to be a human family reunion. Since Wiggly Field is a dog park it's unlikely that what we were witnessing was in fact a family reunion, though it certainly felt to Aron and me (Jeffery isn't as emotionally perceptive) that everyone other than us at the park knew each other intimately. Among the seeming family were two muddy and obnoxious human boys, about five years old, whose careless roughhousing nearly knocked me down twice during the park visit. Being exceptionally protective of my person, I was likewise exceptionally irked by these rude and dirty children. But lest I appear an unkind mom-to-be, I smiled at the boys' play as if I found it darling rather than potentially deadly. (My fear of bodily injury was rather exaggerated during this time. Car rides routinely made me feel on the verge of a panic attack.)
Another self-inflicted pressure I experienced during my pregnancy involved infants. It felt crucial to me that I be able to convincingly pretend to be aesthetically taken with every baby I encountered while pregnant, which was a considerable challenge because, well, infants' appearances range from goofy (on the good side) to horrifying (on the bad side). Cute and adorable babies strike me as such aberrations that the characterizations cute and adorable don't even belong on the infant appearance spectrum.
Strange, then, isn't it, that I find Graham both cute and adorable, as well as handsome and precious? He also has a great sense of humor and an already-emergent wonderful way with words (facts deduced from the expressions he makes in response to stand-up comedy clips on YouTube and to poetry). It's once I arrive at the claim that Graham's poop isn't stinky that I realize I may be afflicted with mom delusions. Or maybe he just has magical poop.
It seems silly now that I put so much effort into smiling at and pretending to find adorable every child I encountered during my known pregnancy. It was practice. I thought I had to practice pretending to be taken with babies so I'd be good at pretending to be taken with my own, even when (it didn't seem a matter of "if") he came out looking grim as babies usually do. Everyone agrees that Graham is wonderful: he has a wonderful personality and wonderful looks. That they're lying or pretending (as I did) is unthinkable. Clearly my kid is a knockout.
Like I mentioned in my first blog entry, I find writing about Graham immensely intimidating, because the love I feel for him is deep and intense, and the deeper an emotion is, the more difficult it is to articulate. Love and appreciation, I've been in positions to learn lately, are the most overwhelmingly gratifying but also the most overwhelmingly frustrating emotions, because you want to release them onto their objects, but how can you? I cuddle, feed and gaze at Graham all day long; there's more love left over when the day ends than was there when it began. I've written thank-you notes to the incredibly kind and beautiful student midwife who delivered Graham; words express vexingly little of the gratitude I feel.
Still, I'll try to explain this mom love. I love Graham, but it's not a reasons-based love. Or rather, the reasons I love him are so particular to him that they'd never work for anyone else. I love him because he smiles when I tickle his cheeks. I love him because when I pick him up, he arches he back and curls his legs underneath him ("womb legs" is what I call them, and they're so sweet!). I love him because he falls asleep most easily when he's on my chest and stomach, and when he sleeps there, his arms fall to my sides and his hands grip my skin, making it feel like he's holding me at the same time I'm holding him. I love him because he looks into my eyes when he eats. I love him because he came from me and Aron, and I love us. I love him because he has a cleft in his chin and giant toes. Mostly I love him simply because I do. There's no way I couldn't. There's no way I wouldn't want to. And I'm sure I'll still love him when he's a dirty five-year-old roughhousing at the park, though I'll be sure to advise him to steer clear of moody and judgmental pregnant ladies.
I love Graham so much that I want, two years and eight months from now, to give him the gift of a little sister, whom we'll name Rosa Everly Hall, unless she turns out to be a brother instead. Graham's only sibling now is a bit stinky and likely lacks even the potential to learn to play hide-and-seek with him. He's a great dog, amazing really, but he is a dog.