Five years ago today, the most beautiful baby boy ever born slipped into the world with his umbilical cord looped gently around his neck and his little hand holding my heart, bringing it with him into the room, beating the song of motherhood.

I don't know what he thought as he looked around for the first time, as he heard the nurses cheering and the doctor teasing his father about his adrenaline-clumsy fingers that fumbled the scissors which cut the physical tie that bound us, as he felt the air pricking the fine hairs on his body and hands turning him, wrapping him, laying him on my chest.

I believe that I do know what he thought in that moment when his skin grazed mine, his eyes turned toward my face, toward my hiccuped, choked call, "Oh, my baby!  Hello, my baby!  Oh, my boy!"  When he sensed my voice, his panicked wail ceased, his face bright and alert as his gaze was drawn into mine.  I saw the recognition, saw him react, saw him think, "Mommy.  My mommy."  I was drowning and I let go, let myself sink.

Oh, my sweet, sweet boy...  I love you fiercely.  I react to your joy and pain viscerally, my heart far more exposed in your life than it ever was in mine.  If ever I thought that growing up was hard when I was the one growing, I now know that difficulty is dwarfed by the insecurity of growing another.  There are so many decisions, so many implications, so many choices second-guessed as I try to guide you into the being you will become.  Do I stand too close?  Let you wander too far?  Give you enough or too much?

As I tucked you in last night, I kissed your cheek and you grasped my head, pulling me nearly into the bed.  I held you and, for a moment, smelled a sliver of your newborn scent -- a scent which makes me drunk with love.  I held you, my baby, and you, my child, in that heartbeat; time swelled so that I could step into memory, swimming again in emotion, reborn as a mother.

Happy birthday, Milo.  I can only hope that one day you will get a gift as perfect as I did when you were born.

Soup: Midwestern Mama Cooking Up Life in the Heartland


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