Valentine's Day is nigh. And I gotta warn my husband: he's got some competition -- he sleeps in the next room.
I usually like 'em tall, but this guy stands at just three and a half feet. He loves trains, Legos, chocolate milk, and farting in the bathtub.
They say it can take a few weeks, even months, for new a mother to bond with her baby. For me, it took three and a half years. It's not that I didn't love him before. I loved him completely. But maybe I didn't completely like him. He was a little hard to like when he was sucking my nipples off, throwing his fork at my eye, waking up 27 times a night, and smacking me in the face when I tried to hug him.
At nine months old, he was a wrecking ball. A drunk midget in a crusty sweater. This picture was taken right after baby Hannibal ate his first liver.
At age one, he was Cabbage Patch Kid on crack. A Savage Patch Kid. Don't be deceived by the angelic face below. Lucifer and Danny Bonaduce also looked like this as children.
At two years old, he was a bumbling toddler with about 20 words in his vocabulary. Just enough to be dangerous -- and perpetually frustrated.
Now, at age three-and-a-half, he is absolutely perfect. I spent 10 days with him over the holidays, without work or distraction, and I got to see who he really is. And man, he is really something. I mean seriously, your kid is a total loser compared to mine. I'm kidding. Please keep reading.
Not so long ago, he was a rude little jerk. I'd take him to the store where some nice sales lady would grin at him and say, "Aw, would you just look at the curls!" I'd smile politely while Max scowled and darted his foot toward her face. I once took him to a clinic and when the nurse came in to greet us Max said, loud and clear, "I DON'T WANT THAT ONE." He had been tended to by a younger, prettier nurse during his previous visit and Pervo Ginger wanted an encore.
Now, he is incredibly polite. (Yes, in spite of me.) His reaction to every gift he opens, be it toys or tube socks, is an enthusiastic "Wowwww!" And he remembers exactly who gave him what.
There was a time when he resisted all affection. He was just too busy pulling the dog's tail and swinging from doorknobs to hug or kiss or cuddle. Now, he is full of love and gives it away freely. Ask for a hug and before you've finished the question he's halfway across the room with his arms open wide. He does a quick lipstick check first though; if your lips are bright red, forgetaboutit, hooker. When I help him out of his pyjama shirt in the morning, his hands holding onto my shoulders for balance, he comes in for a hug just because he feels like it. Sometimes, mid-embrace, he softly says, "mommy..." like he has just rediscovered that I'm his mom and he's pretty pumped about it.
He is smart. He can count to eleventeen. He doesn't have his alphabet down pat yet and he still thinks we live in "Torbag," but I know he's sharp as a tack. One day when I heard him say "fucker," I immediately scolded him: "Now mister, what did you just say?" As quick as a fox, he replied, "Sucker, I said sucker."
And damn, he's hilarious. His latest schtick is taking off all his clothes and marching around the house chanting, "hand-some, hand-some, hand-some..." Clearly, his band instrument is the kazoo. It's like some baby bootcamp hazing ritual taking place in our living room.
Yeah, yeah, I know every parent says their kid is the bomb and of course we're all right. But I think it's important for me, of all people, to declare my kid's awesomeness because I spend so much time likening him to Satan. Like I said, it's not that I didn't love the little devil before now. Of course I did. But up until recently, it was like loving a raving lunatic. Imagine trying to cuddle a school of capelin, or dress a huge harbour tomcod, or kiss a flatty on a prong. (Sorry -- Newfie here, fish theme.) He was just doing what toddlers do: exploring a strange new world with all his ginger might -- limbs flailing, teeth gnashing, mommy cracking. Maybe he was always this rad and I've just been too busy to see it. Hard to see things clearly with your head up your ass. Or maybe I'm finally starting to forgive him for tearing me a new one.
Don't get me wrong, Turbo Ginger has his moments. And I'm glad; where else am I going to get my material? I don't plan to write my second book about motherhood's rainbows and butterflies. It'll be much like my first book where the only butterflies are the moths that took up residence in my vaginal scar tissue.
I've experienced all kinds of love. Love among friends. The love of men. Many, many, many men. Call me a cynic, but it's never a sure thing. Shit happens. I think the love between my dog and me is pretty pure, but I also know she'd drop me like a wet mitt for a grilled cheese sandwich. This love for Max is perfect. It's not without frustration and chaos and shit and puke, but somehow it's perfect nonetheless. He's perfect. And to think, this perfect little person entered the world via my trés imperfect fur biscuit. Oh the irony.
These days, I come home from work, more excited than ever to see him. I flash him a silly look and watch his lips stretch across his face, revealing every tooth in his wooly little head. His eyes narrow and twinkle, bracing themselves for the quake of his belly laugh that's certainly on its way, possibly with a fart in tow. Oh Max. He at once picks me up and makes me fall to pieces.
One day he'll think I'm a total dork, and run off with some beautiful girl and break my heart. So I'm going to enjoy this while it lasts. I'm going to keep hugging him and kissing him and twirling him around the living room to songs like this one, stepping on train tracks and Legos while an excited dog nips at our ankles. It's a song about lovers, but I think it works for us too. I'm his mama and he's my baby -- the mother bloggin' love of my life.