Man, I used to be dumb, so dumb, or to be kinder, naive. Honestly, what was the point of a wide vocabulary when you walked around as thick as I was? About a thousand years ago, I was contemplating a second baby and the biggest reason I didn’t want to go there was I doubted I had enough love in my heart.
So bound I felt to my first little baby, the nervous joy of being with him, me being his go-to person, how he smelt, felt, how my gut sort of closed in on itself when he did something as damaging as smile at me, how I could love another? My poor heart would never manage.
Or if I did go there, my first little baby would get all the good, straight-backed proper love, and anyone who followed, whether it was two babies or ten, would get whatever my little boy baby wasn’t using.
That’s how it felt. That my inexperienced heart might be full up.
I must have been quite callous to decide to have another baby thinking it’d get the first born’s leftovers. Perhaps something made me believe that everything would be okay. Perhaps I said to myself, ‘you found space in your heart for the sticky little fella holding your hand, you can make space for more.’
I have three sons, they are now, sixteen, fourteen and twelve. And yes, there is space for them. I feel like my heart is an expanding universe and it can take what it wants to receive. There are no edges, there’s no measure up the side, no gauge to tap to see if the needle will spring from full to empty.
Sixteen is a peculiar age for a kid.
Big H is big enough, strong enough, smart enough, to do almost whatever he likes but he doesn’t have money and he’s not allowed to drive. My eldest becomes more himself and less me daily. I love him for it, because God, it’s exciting, but slow down, mate. Yesterday morning I walked into the kitchen to find a handsome, big-haired, not-quite stranger, at the bench making himself breakfast. Somehow, I feel like my access to him has diminished. Like I’ve got to ask if I can touch him because women don’t just walk up to gorgeous men and touch them (well, not this woman). I’m sure it’s not like that really. And I do touch my eldest son, hug him, pat his arm, but the days of laying about all over each other on the couch appear to be over.
I’m lucky though because I’ve got my two younger sons for that. It’s the holidays and we have watched movies laying about in the lounge room, in the family room, and in my bed. We lay about in the pool, on the deck, on the trampoline.
And I can’t walk around the house without some voice singing out, I love you, and you’re beautiful, and that’s okay because and I can’t walk about the house without saying those things either.
My middle guy, PVP, has always been a cuddler. We call him the Cuddle King of Chicago (if you haven’t seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off you have missed a vital cultural phenomenon). If there is a kid most like me when I was young, it’s PVP. He’s desperately loving, he’s kind, he’s moody, reflective, doesn’t take losing at games very well, and if you look like you’re disappointed in him (eh?!), he’s crushed. But he never disappoints me because kids are meant to make mistakes and the mistakes he makes are usually about cleaning up after he has made brownies. He’s changing, too. In just the last month his already deep voice has got deeper, especially on the phone, and he is starting to spend more time by himself. Also, he keeps asking me about chest hair, we both have hairless chests and I’m not sure which one of he thinks is going to sprout.
And then there’s the youngest, Stephen King Junior, who seems to think he’s the oldest. He drinks coffee, he writes, he’s well into horror and he swears. We have an agreement about swearing. No f-words, or middle fingers, in front of your teachers, your dad, small children or little old ladies. Last week when his dad and PVP were away and his big brother, Big H, was holed up in his room, SKJ and I did what I call, ‘express bonding.’ We hung out, laughed, cuddled, watched movies, talked story, and he slept in my bed all three nights. When you sleep with SKJ you know it because you’re safe into the sweetest of headlocks. I may not have been comfortable but I was certainly loved.
Black dogs come and go, coming off my medication makes me buzzy, like a cyborg who’s technician is on suspension for malpractice, but love, love sticks, gets bigger, richer. Love doesn’t want anything, you don’t get a bill, what you get is more space in your heart.
me and middle son, no mean feet