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Mama Likey

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Just numbers

Iphone 1963 It wasn't long after the calculation of time since I was wed rang out on my laptop screen that Lil E had a formula of his own to figure out.

"I need to know," he said earnestly to me one day while he paused in between putting teensy Lego pieces on one wing of a Star Wars ship and putting teensy Lego pieces on the other wing of a Star Wars ship, "if I am really, really 5-1/2 yet."

I nodded.

"REALLY? I mean, FOR REAL LIFE? I am already 5-1/2? I am?!"

He was up on his knees, surrounded by piles of plastic parts, skinny Star Wars guys, Lego Star Wars guys, rubber bands he's collected from God only knows where, rocks from every gangway in the neighborhood, a random giant crooked stick, a stuffed animal I am pretty sure he learned to love in utero, an empty bowl containing only shards of rainbow goldfish crackers and a dollar bill.

"Oh, yes," I said seriously. "You are SO 5-1/2. In fact, you are very, very close to 5-3/4."

"WHAT?!" He lept to his feet. His mouth was gaping open. The soundtrack of his shock was the slow rain of single and double yellow Legos on the hardwood floor.

I nodded again. He couldn't move.

I counted the months out on my fingers, showing him where the ninth month landed on my ring finger, explaining as best as a writer can why that marks the 3/4-mark, then counting out the days until he landed exactly, precisely at that glorious point in a young boy's life.

"For. Real. Life?" He whispered it, like Haley Joel Osment would have if the ghosts had signified he was twelve days away from the last quarter of his sixth year on the planet.

One more nod.

"For real life, darling."

He eased back down to the floor, legs splayed over the collection of toys and nature and things I probably should not, as his mother, examine too closely. He went back to work on the X-Wing Fighter -- or was it the Y-Wing? I believe I only have three months left to learn that -- smiling as he used tiny hands to squeeze tinier pieces together to make something bigger, better, more exciting.

His legs have recently gotten much longer. In his face, I get more and more glimpses of the bigger boy, the teenager, the man he will resemble. When we talk, I wonder what of this he will remember and how quickly the baby and toddler memories have faded into times we've snuggled up in bed to read the last pages of a chapter book or raced each other to the park or his "very first and very second" times climbing the rope at his dad's gym all the way to the top. I see 5-3/4 there, soon six, and quicker than I can wrap my head and heart around, I am sure I will see sixteen.

But when he sleeps, I still hear the breathing of the infant in the crib. When he pinches my elbow, I still feel the tiny finger pads of the infant seeking to be soothed. When he looks at me with those melty brown eyes, I can still picture the swaddled newborn placed upon my chest for our very first meeting. When he calls to me from his twin bed, it is the same "MAMA!" that I heard from the toddler who decided it was finally time to walk.

It's sentimental, yes. But the numbers that mean so much to him are little etchings on a big blackboard to me. Maybe I am a little shocked he's so close to that big number six myself.

He's been learning to tell time in the days since he realized how far he is from five. He'll announce that the hour is five, the hour is ten, the hour is so close to twelve as he tries to master one hand at a time.

We've also been counting other things -- the change in the little ceramic bowl tucked into his top dresser drawer, the days left of preschool, the number of his friends going on to Kindergarten at the same school, the days until he sees Daddy, the number of vacations he'll take with each of us, the difference in our ages -- the list is long.

This evening, Lil E watched a show while I finished up some work and sorted through some email, and I faintly heard a high-pitched voice ask the kiddie viewers how many chicks hatched from cartoon eggs.

"THREE!", Lil E shouted at the screen. Then he looked over the couch and shouted toward me. "Why do they always make number things so easy on TV? Why is the answer always three?"

He was distracted before I could answer and I turned my attention back to an email from the ad network on Sassafrass. It was a kind email, one that is often called a "gentle reminder" to get your shit together in the corporate world, noting that my blog had been inactive for more than two weeks. Fourteen days of no posting. It was a check-in. Would I be writing again soon? Would it be active within the next two weeks?

I felt this pang of guilt for putting off pausing here while life has been marching on in my living room, on my laptop, on the school playground and at Whole Foods. It's the longest I've ever been away from this place, the most time I've chosen not to spend here. And there have been reasons, some stressful and some delightful. But instead of worrying how many days were passing in between posts, I chose to focus on what was happening in that time.

Fourteen days. Five and three-quarters. So close to the twelfth hour. I am the same mama. He is the same child. This is the same blog.

We are just taking our time making the stories to fill these spaces. The brown eyes, the awe, even the millions of scattered Lego pieces, the readiness to sit down and tap it all out once again. That is the real stuff.

The rest are just numbers.

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Reader Comments (1)

Ad network reminders or not, no matter how often (or not) you decide to write, we will all still read you because you are a beautiful writer! Also, we're going thru the same thing here with wanting to be "older" and I just want to say STOP! Don't rush it all!
June 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterselfmademom

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