To the boys I have nannied: A lament
If I had known, as I rocked you for hours on end through your colic, that you might be the last infant entrusted to my arms, would I have savored it? Would I have listened to you keening out your displeasure for hours, days, even years with satisfaction? If I had known, the fleeting magic those moments held, would I have cherished it more?
If I had known, as you told me you hate me and threw your toys at the wall, that you might be the last child to love me so deeply, would it have mattered? Because hate is the flip side of love, and no matter how angry you were it showed me how deeply I was cared for. How in your eyes I was trustworthy enough to utter those words to. Would I have held you closer if I had known?
If I had known, when you were purposefully defiant that you might be the last tiny human to push my buttons just to see where the line was, to see what happened when you crossed it, to test how the world works, would I have smiled more? Your tiny fits of fury and line crossing antics lighting up an otherwise bleak day. Would it have been more than just another issue to deal with? Would I have marveled at how independent you were becoming as you grew?
If I had known, as you played in the bath that you might be the last child to enjoy the rasping touch of a washcloth in my hands, would I have played with you there for hours? Marveling at how the bubbles swirl and disappear, how the tornado whirlpool comes taking all things down with it? I wish I had known then that the tornado is a metaphor for life, and how it can unravel.
I had no way of knowing the twists and turns my life would take. That your childishness would be shed as you grew into a young man in the same way that my innocence would be shed as I tried to grow a child of my own. How I desperately tried to mould myself into a woman that could hold the word “mom” as you grew to need my care less and less.
If I had known then that you might be the last child I would help rear, would I have done things differently?
I miss you and love you.