A mother?s love letter to her baby boy
Dear Milo, Let me be the first to write you a love letter. You are plump and delicious, as fat as a ham. I count the creases on your thighs and feel rich. I remember meeting a friend?s baby when she was about 2 months old. The baby?s white legs were unbelievably fat, like unbaked breadsticks or grubworms. My friend was so proud of those legs. She dressed her baby in revealing diaper covers so that everyone could admire those meaty stems. Your sister, Inky, who had seven months on that baby, was crawling hard, burning the fat off everything but the ripe fruit of her cheeks. I looked at my friend?s daughter?s legs, bulging out from the elastic bands of her colorful briefs, and thought, ?Oh man, of course Patty thinks they?re cute. Patty?s her mother. But Jesus, look at them! They?re really fat! It looks like she?s been pounding those deep-fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches Elvis Presley loved.?
I told Patty that her daughter was adorable but secretly preferred your sister?s lean drumsticks, scratched and bruised from those early attempts at mobility. At your pudgiest, you were at least one crease fatter than Patty?s baby ever was. I loved you beyond reason. I am drunk on your pulchritude. I love you now, and I?ll love you two months from now when you?ve run yourself creaseless.
I love you the way I loved my boyfriends, if memory serves, except I know I won?t find you boring and offensive in a year and a half. I love you the way I loved them at one o?clock in the morning, when I pedaled my bicycle through the dark streets of Chicago, my skin electric with anticipation after an eight-hour shift in the restaurants where I worked. I love you the way I loved them before I got to know them, before I met their parents and grew weary of their casual farting. I love you like I loved the one with beautiful hands and the calfskin jacket, but more. I love you like I loved the one from that endless happy summer on the front porch of my dilapidated undergraduate house, the one who quoted Shakespeare, but more.
I don?t write these things to make you squirm in high school. I write them because I love every inch of your body. Your breath is pure banana. I am completely infatuated.
I love the small twigs of wax in your ears. I love the grimy triangles I trim from the edges of your fingernails, always too late to stop you from scratching a red divot across your plump cheek. I love the dirt between your toes. I was wrong at Christmas. There?s nothing so horrible about the little patties you pump into your diapers. The exact color of whatever you?ve been eating, they prove that your innards are performing at the peak of their abilities. I love your father, but when he goes to the bathroom I want him to flush and light a match.
A friend whose only child is one day older than Inky can?t get enough of you, a living reminder of how sweet and without guile her little boy once was. I hand you over reluctantly, wishing that she would continue wrangling the 3-year-olds so that I could have you all to myself a bit longer. Back when milk was your only food, she would nuzzle your cheek only to wrinkle her nose in reproach. ?P-U, Milo, you smell like throw-up!?
What could I do? You needed a bath by 9:30 every morning. Your rump smelled like new-mown hay, but the rest of you was a bit sour. Still, throw-up? To me, your reek was as inviting as an expensive French cheese.
Now you stand. You stand, and you are so short that I have to check your legs to make sure you?re not sitting down. In a few weeks I imagine you?ll be walking.
Milo, my Meadowsweet, you are getting big. Second baby, it goes by in a flash. I hope you will be loved this madly again, perhaps first in high school and then again in springtime and again and again until you find a mate with whom to share your precious life. For a few ecstatic months, your mate will love you unconditionally, as I have for a year now. After that, you will learn to negotiate and compromise, loving through aggravation, disappointment and anger. Your father and sister have taught me that it is worth it.
Sooner than we think, I will be ready to share you. May the issue of your bowels never find an admirer so ardent as your mother, but, boy of mine, I hope life will net you your fair share of love letters.
Your humble servant, I remain,
Ma ma ma
The hilarious and unswervingly honest zinestress behind East Village Inky (http://ayunhalliday.com/a>), Ayun Halliday (shown on previous page with Milo) is the author of The Big Rumpus: A Mother?s Tale from the Trenches (Seal Press, 2002), from which this piece is excerpted. This essay has also appeared in HipMama (The Freedom Issue 2002). Subscriptions: $12?$24/yr. (4 issues) from Box 12525, Portland, OR 97212.