Words I can think of to describe life with Rafael right now are exhausting, funny, and affectionate. As we grow closer and get to know one another more and more, this boy becomes such a solid chunk of my existence and I can't imagine life without him. He rambles up to me multiple times a day to give me kisses or to plant his little face into my lap or chest or, if I'm standing, between my legs. He is more loving than I ever expected or hoped for!
I've always been a person who contemplates life, who constantly explores the meaning of what is going on in her life, and who weighs pros and cons again and again. But lately, days pass by so quickly, and moments are so full of responsibility and just trying my best to keep this little guy entertained, fed, clean, happy, and out of the bathroom cabinets, that I find myself incapable of doing much soul searching. Life is just action and doing at this point, without much of a chance for thinking about how I feel about what I am doing. Maybe it's a good thing...I'm not sure. I just know that it's still unfamiliar terrain for me.
Even in moments like this, sitting on the couch with a blanket draped around my shoulders, I find I can't fully relax or let my mind wander. Everything I do must have purpose; there's no room for day dreaming and deep contemplation.
Actually that's not entirely true. When there are quiet moments on our walks in the forest....when Rafael is sitting calmly in the stroller and isn't demanding I sing to him, or stumbling along the icy path in his big snowsuit....then I look up at the lace of the naked tree branches, and the lemony winter sky, take deep breaths, and my mind wanders, and I day dream, and I even have some epiphanies or fresh ideas or answers to questions that have been plaguing my subconscious. So those walks in the cold mornings can be very fruitful and important to my well-being.
Rafael is learning at least one new word a day. He repeats so many words that we say, and is adamant about knowing what things are called, either in books or around the house. He recognizes people, his friends and family. If someone gives him a gift, he remembers, and tells me who gave him a toy when he hold it up. He gives the dogs their treats in the morning. He adores books that have little windows you can open. He hates having his teeth brushed and has four new choppers poking out of his gums. His favorite meal is basmati rice with steamed buttered broccoli and fish. He thinks bath time is awesome. And he still nurses at least once a day.
How am I doing as a mother? Oh gosh, who knows. Can any mother answer that? I have moments of intense impatience and frustration, especially when Rafael is whining while the dogs are barking, all while simultaneously tracking mud into the house. In those moments, I want to scream and disappear. But I keep cool. Sometimes I think mothers should get awards for the way they can act calm and loving, while inside they are ready to explode.
It sounds so cheesy, but it's true: the kisses, hugs, funny faces and laughter this boy shares with me totally make up for the difficult aspects. At the end of the day, there is nothing I would rather be than his mother.