My Own Private M.B.
I am trying to bargain with my M.B.
“I am writing a story about you,” I say. “Want to hear it?” I figure I can edit and write more as I read aloud. But he’s having none of it. He wants what he wants when he wants it, like any toddler worth his or her stripes.
“No story! Come up! No typing!” He crawls into my lap, and I put my computer on sleep mode.
My M.B. has become a little boy. He strings words together into sentences, sings songs, makes jokes (toddler humor? Who knew?), dances, and even holds me with his hands cupping my face, or else his arms wrapped around my legs. Even with his new mornings of child-care at the university, we are together most of the time. He is my companion, my charge, my yoga, he is my work and my job, my joy. He is so much a part of me, and my daily life, that all of a sudden writing about him seems unmanageable. How does one write about his fingers, eyes, or legs? How can I explain how much this child means to me?
This signals a change for me — I am reluctant to share too much. For some reason — too much Jon and Kate Gosselin coverage? — I hesitate to chronicle the details of the private moments he and I share. How strange that I was able to write about my desperate struggle for a child, but now that I have him, even listing the songs he sings around the house seems like a potential violation of his privacy, or even of my own.
My plan for this final installment of my column had been to tackle the question of trying for one more child. But I am not ready to think about that, or discuss the issue with close friends, much less write about it for public consumption. My M.B. still feels new. He cries when I leave him and my heart pulls back in saying goodbye, even for a few hours. I haven’t spent a night away from him. He is a toddler, an independent child in some ways, but he is also my baby, the center of my world, my Mama’s Boy. He always will be.
When I was a girl I fantasized about one day having this kind of family — the healthy, loving kind. The decision I made years ago to break from my family of origin (see this New York Times article for more on why people make that difficult choice); my struggle to have a child — from an early miscarriage, to a challenging international adoption application process, to infertility treatments; my road from depression to self-acceptance, contentment and day to day happiness (as chronicled in my new book) — it has all come to this precious time with M.B.
It is dark and cold out, the rainy season in Vancouver, but we are inside, warm, blessed. Look, there we are on the couch reading a book, M.B. filling in the last word of every line. Or there, on the kitchen floor, M.B. sits stirring plastic vegetables in a mixing bowl, making pretend vegetable soup, while I prepare an early dinner. And there we are, playing with our dog and a tennis ball in the backyard in between storms. Or upstairs, all four of us (M.B., Neil, the dog, me) playing a jumping and falling game on the bed like we’re in an interspecies introduction to modern dance class.
When I’m older I’ll revisit this time in my memories, maybe even long for it the way I used to long for my Mama’s Boy. I’ll spend many writing hours replaying these years with my husband and son in our new rainy city. For now, though, just for a little while, since M.B. has asked me to, and there is a book to read, and a bath to give, and laundry to do, and trips to take, and songs to sing, and classes to teach, and leaves to rake, and life to lead, just for a little while I will close my laptop. I will, of course, come back and write. In the meantime, though, I want to be here, alive in this delicious, exhausting, fleeting moment.