“Be here” reads a sign in my kitchen. Pink highlighter on purple card. It’s difficult to make out from a distance. I am learning meditation. I am re-learning meditation. Not in a temple on a hilltop this time, but day by day, lesson by email lesson from a Canadian man with a soothing Canadian voice. Easy, bite-size lessons. Each day’s practice achieved; a pink ‘X’ on a page.
Part of today’s guidance reaching me from Canada. Sticking this sign up. A reminder to be here.
Where else would I be? Everywhere and nowhere. Thinking about work, or the lack of it. Thinking about housework and the infinitesimal supply of it. Thinking about dinner and whether I can sneak another biscuit with this cup of tea.
Everywhere, anywhere. In my head. Caught up with the news on the radio. Checking Facebook. Thinking about what we should have for dinner and whether the bins go out today or tomorrow. Wondering whether the 9-month-old is squawky because he’s teething. Because it’s a wonder week?
How many weeks is he anyway? I stopped counting weeks months ago.
Today I remembered. I was here for the small journey to the bottom of the stairs with my baby boy. I decided to pick one thing to notice, fully. One moment to embrace with all of my senses. To be wholly present for.
Stepping with slippered foot onto soft carpet. Your weight on my left side. Your knees, chunky thighs, wrapped up in stripes of white and blue, wrapping around my left hip. My arm supports, strong.
Your hand, open palm on my chest, the other clutching my dressing gown, the white one, with a food stain at the end of the belt that I can’t seem to get around to washing, It smells of mother-sweat and baby-milk. It smells of us baby. I can’t get my head around washing it.
We step, slowly. I feel your weight, hear your breathless excitement at the day beginning, your liberation from the room of mama and entry into the family. Joy kicking its feet. Clutching my dressing gown and, leaning now your head, shoulders away from me to follow the sound of your brother’s voice below.
Breath, soft, slightly sweet. Eyes; blue trust turned towards my face. We step. How many stairs have you walked down with me? How many on my hip? How many in my belly?
On the subway stairs in New York. Filling my belly, making short walks feel long as you pressed on my bladder. I sat in Central Park and watched the world go by. Wondered about you. Who you were. I sat in Central Park on a sunny day, free of your older brother for a brief time. But your presence undeniable. Pressing on my bladder, joy kicking at my tummy.
Almost a year gone by since then.
Your weight once mine, measured on the same scales. Now they give you your own scales, but your weight still belongs to me, balanced on my hip. Strapped to my front, cradled in my arms. Small feet. Strong limbs. Even before they felt the air.
A tiny open palm slapped against my chest. You like the noise. I rub your nose with mine. You throw back your head in laughter, revealing six shiny new teeth.
Sometimes, a palm slapped against my chest. In pain, in frustration. More teeth on the way to join those others. Open palm turns to clench as you try to grab my nose, to investigate it.
I have my mother’s nose. We sisters all do. Longer than I would like. The family nose. It comes from her mother’s side she said. My Grandmother 34 years dead. I didnt know her well, but I remember a small woman in an armchair reaching into a cupboard press and proffering crisps, chocolate maybe also. But I only remember the crisps. The packet, with a picture of the salt and the vinegar. When marketing was simpler. Before the flavour was manufactured in a factory. A hill with rosebushes. The scent of roses always makes me think of my Grandfather.
Stepping. We reach the bottom of the stairs. Wooden floor now, Coats hanging on the door. A small shelf with shoes. A red tricycle. A present from Santa.
I am here. With you. For you. Because of you. You here because of me. Because of me and love, for a man. Your father.
Your presence bigger than you are. Sometimes you seem to occupy the space entirely. In the dark of night, the rest of the house asleep, my world shrinks to you. Two humans sleeping beside each other in the dead of night. Before the world wakes again.