I am a woman obsessed. Not by choice, mind you. It's because I am a mother. I think.
I lay next to C tonight, reading a library book we've read together at least 15 times, so I know all the parts where I need to be patient so he can count things, and the exact parts that will make him giggle, and the parts that he gets so excited he shouts out in one-word bursts, and the parts that I don't need to read because he will recite them himself.
And at the part about the jelly bean car - the giggly part - I recited the words from memory so I could look over at his face and watch as his eyes creased with laughter, as his mouth opened and emitted a giggle, as his body gave a little wiggle of delight as it lay there next to mine on his bed.
And then, there it was again. That nagging little feeling. That pokey, brain-prodding question of how well it is I actually remember how it is that this little face I love so much grew from a fresh, soft, squishy, chubby newborn face to the slender, beautiful-for-a-boy three year old face of today.
"Do you REALLY remember?" asked that shrew of an inner voice. And
then I would desperately try to remember if I remembered the thing I was
supposed to remember because I am The Mom. And when I thought I
remembered, when I drew up mental images of his newborn face, of his 18-month-old face, that shrew would dash all hope: "Nope! That's from a photo. It's a reflected memory, you twit."
It's that same nagging feeling I have when I look into A's face and will myself to memorize it in its entirety, to make mental bookmarks of this place in our history together so that I can remember what 6 months and 2 days old was like - today - as he sat there in his walker while I cooked dinner and positively beamed at me each and every time I turned my attention his way, entirely thrilled to be exploring the world from a sitting vantage point and on his own steam, fat legs and long feet bumping his body from the ground upward, all the while my inner voice anxiously willing me to remember how his voice trills as he's trying out new sounds and finding his voice.
Then, there's the voice of sanity that creeps in. . . softly, carefully, diplomatically. And She saves me, gives me a Get Out of Jail Free card with a simple "Why this stress?" and gently reminding me "Your memory's not so great anyway, you know. You LIVE in the moment. Give yourself credit for that. Besides, do you remember what M's face has looked like every day from the moment you first met? No? Just a few vivid momentary recollections, then? So, why put this on yourself as a mother?"
Then, I breathe a sigh of relief. For about one second. Then, the obsessed lady turns to the sane lady and says "BUT don't you KNOW that this time goes SO QUICKLY!? DON'T YOU KNOW that one day this will ALL BE GONE!?!? And OH how we'll both MISS IT, you and I. OH how we'll miss it!"
Then those two ladies cry together a while before going and kissing their babies in their sleep. Then, they pinky swear each other to give even more kisses tomorrow, right before beginning a new day's study of those babies' faces.