It’s easy to remember the big moments. The milestones, the firsts. The birthdays and graduations. But what of all the tiny moments in between? It is those I want to remember the most.
I will never forget the first time you smiled, but what of the second? Or third? Will I remember those, too? How the entire landscape of your face changes with each new tooth and I have to relearn you every time? Let me memorize you in all of those phases.
I will never forget the first time you laughed. It was the sweetest sound I ever heard, and we did everything we could to replicate it, but you were judicious with your laughs. We had to earn them. So, we danced for you and made silly faces and sounds, and whenever we got even the slightest giggle, our hard work was so worth it.
I will remember the first time you laughed but let me also remember every time after that.
I write down your measurements at each doctor visit. Worrying when your weight seems low, celebrating when it seems high. I organize your clothes by size and mourn each time we put away another batch you have outgrown. These are moments marked in ink or by remnants.
But let me also remember that no matter how big you seem to get, you always fit perfectly against my chest. My missing puzzle piece.
I have a clear memory of that first time you slept through the night. The shock of seeing what time it was on the clock. The momentary panic before seeing you slumbering peacefully next to our bedside. I clearly remember the nights we did not sleep. Tear-stained and milk-covered. At my breaking point of exhaustion.
But what of all the times we awoke together in the dark of the predawn? Your warm body curled against mine as you ate. Feeling as though we were the only two people in the world. No matter how tired I was, nothing felt better than holding you in my arms.
We make big shows of holiday mornings and birthday mornings and the days of big events. But what of the slow mornings on our deck? Buried under my bathrobe together as we gazed at the sky looking for birds. Or when you used to lie quietly next to me while I wrote, swaddled tightly, eyes wide open as they took in the room, the world, this life.
It is these times I want to remember most.
Never let me forget the smell of your scalp. The instant euphoria I feel whenever I breathe in the top of your head. They say that baby’s heads smells are sweet, but yours is sharper, like your dads. It’s changing as you change. Maturing as you do, and I almost can’t remember what you smelled like when we first took you home. The mix of spit-up and powder.
We celebrate your learning to wave and to point and to sign back. But what of how you came out of the womb instinctively able to wrap your little hand around my finger. You did not have to learn that. And though your fingers were so tiny compared to mine, I felt held by you in that moment. Just as I was holding you. I can still feel the soft pillow of the underside of your palm against me, but it is fading. How can I be sure to remember?
Never let me forget the feeling of your little hands tugging at my pants. Or your arms wrapped around my leg. Cementing me in place when my impulse was to keep moving. An unspoken reminder to be here now. To be with you. I will never forget your first steps, but what about all the little ones in between. How courageous it was to take that leap from the chair to me.
We wrote down your first words, but what of all the funny little sounds you made along the way to get there? How you practiced your consonants for months under your breath before ever saying our dog’s name. How you have your own secret language just for him.
It is easy to remember the extraordinary moments, but it is these ordinary moments I want to remember the most.