I was driving through my neighborhood today when I looked over and saw a woman pushing a baby in a stroller. It wasn't an extraordinary picture. I live across the street from a school, a block from a park and in a residential area where many parents sling and stroll and walk side by side with their little ones.
The wind must have blown as this woman walked past with her baby so that an oak tree stretched from the sidewalk to the street left a puddle of leaves on the grass as she passed. I saw her through a curtain of yellow and gold and barely-visible green.
I remembered pushing the stroller that held a very new Lil E, all swaddled in hand-knit blankets and sweet little caps. I remembered singing to him as we walked and walked through the neighborhood we lived in then. Sometimes I walked to pass the time, sometimes I walked to calm his cries, sometimes I walked just so I could leave the apartment and feel a part of the world for a few moments. The early days were exhilarating and amazing and sometimes, exhausting and isolating. I remembered that too.
As I turned the corner and dodged puddles and watched leaves from more oak trees slide down my windshield, I thought of what I dreamed of on those walks four falls ago.
(More revelations after the jump.)
I remembered that I hoped I would work, preferably
from home so I could be close to my boy and still connected to my
colleagues. I hoped I would be writing, would have freedom to be
creative, would be making a living doing what I loved.
I hoped we would be in a new home. One with more room to breathe. One that felt more permanent and was brighter and bigger and more of our own.
I hoped we would not be so stressed about money and sleep and schedules and in-laws and holidays and sex and friendships and changing identities.
I hoped we would have time for walks like these in our own neighborhood, full trees raining down leaves.
I hoped I would be just as in love with the tiny boy cooing at me from the infant car seat snapped into the stroller, rolling slowly over cracked sidewalk and through puddles and back around.
And then, the last leaf floated down.
I remembered that I hoped I would be happy.
I am happy, I thought. And I admit, it surprised even me to think to myself. I have these things. And I am happy.
I have these things. All of these things.
That boy of mine ran up the front stairs of our home this afternoon and then back down a few hours later to meet his dad for Wednesday night visitation. I watched his legs, which have gotten so much longer in the last month, and heard his laugh, which still comes from his belly with the same surprise and sincerity. He was running beyond me at his own pace, as he should, but I felt the same surge as I did looking down at him in the stroller.
He goes away now, he is growing now, but he still looks back.
Mommy, I wuv you! Call me and we will say our prayer.
Mama, I'm coming!
I wuv you wots, Wittle Mommy!
The hope was always there. Thank God, the happy has come back around again.