When a baby falls asleep in my arms, I flood out with emotions. Feeling her tiny, chubby, little baby carrots for fingers slowly reach up and grasp my hand, I pause. Each finger curls around mine, but they become enveloped in my hand. Taken into shelter and warmed by my grasp.
I look down on my chest and see her fingernails that are truly the size of peas. A mini human curled up on my stomach and chest. She wants to feel protected and at ease. So I hold her gently, with as much love and tenderness as I can.
With my left arm curled around her back and supporting her little neck, I feel her fragility. I take a deep breath every few moments to ease into the tenderness and vulnerability of the moment. She nuzzles her head closer into the space in between my upper arm and my chest. Nuzzling like a little puppy trying to get cozy. I can feel her blonde curls with a silk-like texture brush my chin when I look down and rest my cheek on the top of her head. I nuzzle my head back into her with equal compassion as she does to me. We are one little curled up ball of love and I invariably think about my mom.
She must’ve held me like this.
She probably believed that she could protect me from the world. But she would be the one I would need protection against.
Not at that time. When I had fingers like baby carrots, I know she must’ve held me with as much tenderness as I hold this child.
But it inevitably makes me ask myself where did she go wrong? And why can’t she hold me with even a semblance of that love today?
I think that she gave it all away to us, her kids, and couldn’t find any for herself. So today when I hold a baby and this little cherub slowly falls asleep as I wrap my arms around her and gently rock her to sleep, I think of my mom.
The other day, I held a close friend’s baby as I laid back against the headboard of the bed and her entire body fit perfectly into my left arm. My arm felt like this big hammock with all these blankets and pillows that she crawled into to find some rest. I could feel her little chest rise and fall as she laid on mine. Her raspy lungs inhaling a little too forcefully, she had a cold.
I was there to protect her, feed her, and tell her she was safe from the world. Safe enough to feel like my chest was her home and place of peace.
She dozed into a state of semi-consciousness and even before I knew what was going on, I felt my throat tighten with grief. It started in my heart but moved up to my throat. My eyes began to well up and a tear fell. I tried to pull it back, thinking, what is happening? Why do I have this massive swell of pain overcoming my body?
It was because I knew my mom held me like this. I knew she was the hammock that I crawled towards to be held and comforted. She was that person but today she is someone else entirely.
I’m not saying that I want to be held like an infant by my mother, but to be held in any way, knowing that she still wants to try and protect me from the world. That’s what I want.
My tears told me that my mother isn’t able to protect herself from the world, so I know that she isn’t able to do it for me today.
And that’s why I cried. I let the that immense swell of pain wash over me as this sweet infant laid upon my chest, because we were all protected at one point in our lives. I just have experienced how that protection is forcibly taken away, and maybe never coming back.