The thing about motherhood is the amazing insight our children show us. We look anew at the tiny particles of the world as our babies lie on the floor, arms and feet flailing, gurgle baby laughter, and drippy toothless grins. And how everything we know is thrown away as we kiss those wet mouths, and make faces to make them laugh. It’s truly a level of conscientiousness that is innate. It’s inside us like our spirits, it’s fully developed without proper instruction. It’s instinctual, utter encompassing love. It steals our hearts and it heightens every sense. Motherhood.
When Ricky was born, he was of course the most beautiful baby ever to be born. He was stubborn about birth, in transverse position and coming out face up instead of face down after 29 1/2 hours of labor. The single most best morning of our lives, on the coldest day in the decade, was the first time we laid eyes on Richard Kelly.
Ricky was curious from the moment he was born. He rarely slept during the day unless he was in the swing, and then we’d slowly tick, tick, tick wind it back up and prop up his tiny head and let him snooze away. Twinsie and I could not get enough of this tiny being borne from me. She was four months pregnant with her child as we doted endlessly on mine.
When I rocked him, which was all the time, he would snuggle a bit, but then have to sit facing forward, nestled into my chest, so he could watch his world, reaching up to grab my hair and pull it to his face.
He was so attentive to every detail. And the endless, “What’s that?”s. Everything fascinated him, and he was a Houdini, he could open up locked doors, and figure out how to get the baby gates open. And you can only imagine the escapades of such a tiny Houdini — one morning when my mom was visiting my twin she called and asked, “Has Ricky had breakfast yet? I can feed him with Jayni.” And I sat upright in bed, having been nursing his baby sister, and flew into the kitchen to find the kitchen chair pushed to the door and the bolted lock turned, and off my little 3 1/2 year old child went into the scary world to walk five doors down to my sister’s. I wanted to kill him, hug him, and then high five him.
Ricky loved to snack. One dark early morning I found him on the floor in the kitchen with a gallon of ice cream between his legs eating it with a big, huge spoon, and covered with chocolate ice cream. He had a mind of his own, but at the same time, he was very compassionate and sensitive. He wanted to know about people, “Why is that boy crying?” “Why is that man sad?” “Why is that little girl so happy?” And he would work out the reasons why. “Maybe he’s crying because his mommy said he couldn’t have M&Ms, or maybe his mommy said he couldn’t have a dog?” “Mommy, do you think that old man’s tummy hurts?” “I bet that little girl is going to the movies!”
And on and on he’d be observing and I’d be listening and talking and we’d share ideas, and it was amusing, interesting, and heartbreaking all at the same time. My little boy had eyes to see what most the world couldn’t.
When his little sister came, Ricky would stand by her cradle and gently rock her saying, “How’s my little gootchie gootch.” He stood there watching over her for a much longer time than you’d expect from a child so young. He was endlessly curious about how she got out of my tummy without a “cut”. (The very interesting “poopie hole and baby hole” conversation ensued.)
And what I loved best, was when Ricky couldn’t figure something out, then he would proclaim it was magic. He loved magic, he loved not only what he could figure out and understand, but what he couldn’t.
When I was nursing Bethani, and supper was simmering on the stove, Little Ricky came in from playing in the yard, and walked into the kitchen. I heard a thump (which was Ricky hoisting himself up on the counter to get the M&M jar) and I called out. “Ricky, no M&Ms, we will be eating soon” and then I heard a “thump” as he dropped to the floor. Then I heard the refrigerator open, and called out, “Ricky, no pop or juice, it will ruin your appetite.” and swish went the refrigerator door as it closed.
Then he was standing beside me, his 3 1/2 year old eyes full of wonder. “Mommy?” he whispered, looking deeply into my eyes, while his dirty hand absently stroked his baby sister’s head. “Can you read my mind?” And I tried so hard not to laugh, when he whispered in awe, “Are you magic?”
And I told him that yes, mommies, could sort of be magic and maybe even sort of be able to read our babies minds. But, mostly we just love our babies and want them to grow strong and eat their supper.
I reached superstar status with Ricky that evening as I heard him tell his friend from down the street as they played in the breezeway that his mommy was magic, and could read his mind. And he strutted in his little red shorts and striped shirt as his little buddy looked at him in awe and said, “Wow.”