I See You

I see you, little one.

We’ve had quite the year — and so have you.

You’re a different person than you were 7 months ago, and you carry yourself with the weight of someone no longer processing the world with the wonder of a baby, but with the gravity and understanding of a child who has experienced both joy and hardship.

In your most remarkable moments, you are funny and joyful and helpful, sweetly replying “OK, mama” when I ask you to do something mundane or even unpleasant. You notice when I am sad, and do a silly dance with your long limbs that have taken on a new lankiness, or put your face close to mine and smile widely until I’m smiling, too. You love your baby brother SO hard, and often play with him quietly in the morning so I can get a few more minutes of shut-eye nearby. You comfort him when he cries in the car, offering toys, songs, and love, anything that will possibly help him. Your maturity and gravity in these moments astounds me.

But the aftershocks of bringing a special-needs baby into our home have frayed you around the edges, too.

In a home where 100% of the time and attention was yours for four years, where we were lucky enough to take you all over the world and fill your young life with experience, it must have been jarring to all of a sudden be housebound, to have the spontaneity and adventure with which your life was lived be replaced with routine, with specialist visits and weigh-ins, with a tearful and anxious mother, with indefinitely postponed visits to our families, with hours in your room or in front of the TV when we were both focused on the baby.

I see the fatigue in you. You often struggle with regulating your emotions, throwing yourself on the ground immediately when something upsets you, slapping me or your dad when you don’t get your way, slamming doors and bursting into tears on a dime. Sure, some of it is simply being 4, some of it is the fiery nature you unfortunately inherited from me, but I know some of it is a delayed processing of everything that’s happened and how it weighs on you. As much as I need to heal, I see and recognize that you do, too — and feel like we can do it together.

I see you trying to understand both the beauty and pain in our world. You ask questions based on lessons at school or adult conversations you overhear that stop me in my tracks: What is violence? What is war? Why do people have guns? Who was Martin Luther King? Why did someone hurt him with a gun? I wanted to meet him! You have a unique sense of style, you love music and language and dance and color and art and photography, and your infectious laughter brings so much warmth into our home as the nights grow dark and cold.

As our baby continues to grow stronger and the cloud of fear begins to clear away from our lives, I see the new you with fresh eyes and fall in love with you over and over again. I am starting to see the outline, the possibility of the person you will be someday, and it takes my breath away. Suffice to say I’ve screwed up quite a few times with you over these last several months, but I am here. I owe it to you to do everything I can to support and nurture the remarkable person you are becoming, to help you work through the things you struggle with, and to make you feel every ounce of my love, as imperfect as it might be.

I’m sorry that I was blind for a little while, but I see you now, little one, and I promise that I always will.