James, I'm sorry. But I'll get to that in a minute, because that's not really what this blog is about.
James, you are one year old today.
How did this come so quickly? It feels like a blur but at the same time as I sit and think, I know I can recall the pace of every single day until now. I can recall so many of those moments with you where my mind took a little snapshot [click] that I can keep in a little album in my head.
I was talking today to my family about the day you were born. I was remarking on how much it was like how you are: everything gone according to plan (mostly), with a calm, quiet joy that honored the occasion. I remember the mildly anxious time they had getting you out -- you were happy in there, and you didn't want to budge! But when they did, they raised you overhead and you cried out for just a few seconds. Then your daddy came over to tell you everything was okay, and you just stopped. And then I don't think you really cried for the next three months!
You and I had a lot of time to ourselves when you were little because you breastfed so well for so long. Claire needed Daddy because you needed me, so we had time to become buddies. Eight months, James! It would have been longer if the demands of my job hadn't been so bad around that time. They were wearing me completely thin, and we had not yet found anyone to take care of your sister. I regret it to this day that I couldn't make it work for longer, because you were just a champ. You were a great eater, and healthy and round and growing, and I was just amazed at what my body could do! And I loved our quiet time together to bond. The way you would look up at me all happy and content, and tug on my hair or touch my face while you ate. Or the way you would play with your ear as your eyes starting closing because you were just so relaxed...
But at the same time, you bit me a couple of times, and I don't know that we could have made it so well after you got teeth. So maybe it was for the best?
As much as I think Claire takes after daddy, I think you are like me.
You have the most gentle little personality. From the time you were born, you were the perfect center of calm in the storm around here. Aunt Veronica said you were like the incarnation of the Buddha, simply at peace in your surroundings. And even though your personality has grown -- you have a little temper sometimes when you don't get your way, and when you're sleepy or teething you get pretty whiny and cranky -- you are still the same serene little Baby James.
You have a beautiful smile you offer freely, and a hearty, throaty laugh that's more of a chuckle than a giggle. You still love to use your hands all the time. When you were born, that was one of the first things I noticed about you: you were really into what your hands could do and were always touching your face. You love anything with moving parts that you can push and pull and spin, and you are quiet content to sit and play for long, long periods of time with anything that really catches your interest! Amazing! Just the other day, you played with a small box on the floor that had rolls of Claire's temporary tattoos in it. You opened the box, and took them out, and put them back in, and dumped it out, and played with the whole thing for what must have been 15 minutes.
And your manual dexterity is just amazing. I noticed from the time you were tiny that you could turn things around and pass them from hand to hand, and pick things up with your bitty fingers so easily. What does the future hold for you with that skill, little man?
You're not walking yet, but you crawl like a champ. It seemed to take you a long time to learn to roll over. Then you started out with an army crawl for a month or two before you finally figured out how to get up and move more easily. Now you're pulling up and standing next to everything, and climbing on the furniture, and sometimes even standing without holding on for a decent amount of time. I think you're going to start walking any day now.
Even if it's just because you really want to grab hold of a cat.
So why am I sorry? I'm sorry because I ever doubted I could love you. I'm sorry I underestimated what you would mean to me. I'm sorry that I was so wrapped up in my own self-interests in a BS tornado that I wasted any moment of our 9 months together when I could have been getting to know you a little more. I hope you don't think less of me, and that some day, when you read this, you know that I mean all that I say with love from the bottom of my heart.
The day you were born you gave me the most beautiful moment of my life. I can pinpoint the moment I knew I loved you. Everyone had left. Daddy went home to be with Claire. Grandma and grandpa and your aunts had all gone back to the house. The nurses finally left us alone. It was just you and me. We sat in the hospital bed, and the evening sunset cast a particularly warm glow around the room. I had just latched you on to eat, and you looked up at me with those tiny baby blue eyes. I gently touched your soft, baby hair, and stroked it from back to front. And that moment you closed your eyes, and gave the most contented little sigh I've ever heard. And in that second I knew that you and I were meant to be together, and that nothing in my life would ever be the same, and that I would love and protect you forever. THAT was the moment you moved into my heart for always.
The factory is silent. Its assembly line stands motionless. Somewhere off in the darkness, a buzzer sounds. One by one, lights begin to flicker and illuminate on long-unmanned diagnostic panels, giving a sense of enormity and complexity and scale to the machinery. The low hum of power supplies warming up comes next, followed by the higher and louder whine of turbines and electric motors. A whistle sounds, and one by one, employees begin to file in and take their places at the controls. Purposed for a single task, whose time has now come, the factory slowly comes to life...