After four kids, you think I would have found a way to freeze-frame time so that I can actually enjoy a few inhalations and exhalations and take it all in.
Perhaps that’s what a photograph was designed to do. And so I have tons of those, imprinted digitally and stored on my computer in little icons that look like folders. These folders fool me; make me think I’m archiving something that I will actually go back to print out, or press into a sticky-backed albums, or outsource to bind in a little memory book. But the reality is the photos will lucky collect dust in those electronic folders, maybe to be stumbled upon as I put together a slideshow or at 2 am when the missing-of-them is simply too great.
Julien is just over 8 months old and stuffing a granola bar wrapper in his mouth as I type. He is suddenly this whole little person, enjoying short bouts of independence outside of my arms as he crawls and scoots around the house. He crawls like his brother did, with one leg out in front like a crab.
He likes to eat and knows the sounds of a package being opened means some processed, preservative-laden treat (think Oreos and Tastycake). But he also likes black beans and hummus and tiny bits of pancakes, fruit, pasta, cheese, and eggs. Mama’s milk is always on standby, day and night. A little tooth on the bottom has just poked through a bit and I cried; walked him in my arms over to Jason and said “Our very last gummy-smile baby…”
One of his favorite toys is a small, metal trash can with a foot pedal. It rarely has garbage in it, so he likes to push it over, flip the lid up and down, and pat on it like a drum with his tiny hands. If we chant “clap clap clap” or “shake shake shake” or “dance dance dance” he will wiggle and throw his arms in the air and do his own form of a sitting jig. He also loves to dig things out of a basket or container and discover toys in that way.
He awakens between 6:30 – 7:00 every morning, which is too early for mama’s liking. And so he jabbers a bit, rolls and crawls around the bed, and then Daddy usually ends up taking him for awhile. Daddy claims that most mornings he says “Hi, Dada!!”. When Kaia or Indigo awaken, one of them typically plays with him for a short time and it is the highlight of their morning.
Julien, my love, our Chunk, our Fudge, our Jujube and Jooje, my plumpest baby of them all, already in 12-18 month clothing and size four diapers. He is the Little Prince of the household and is never without either constant attention or gazing upon the chaos of a continual circus.
The gift of a fourth baby is that you realize how fast time flies. It is also the curse of a fourth baby. In so many ways, Julien is my daily lesson in attached-unattachment. The in-between of letting go and holding on. That space right before you have to release a loved one you are hugging. Or the space right before your arms encircle them. Energy, tension, release, surrender, leaning-into, a hunk of burning love.
Julien, you somehow knew – in your primal and ancient wisdom – to join us at precisely the right time. You season us with smiles, the kind that hurt our cheeks. You restore and unwind and captivate and are all the light there ever is or will be.
I love you, like a boss.