Charlie's the first baby born of my body, and the only one I'll have. I am always aware that he is my single chance.
I don't mean that I'll never again have the pleasure of watching a brand-new baby wake up to the world around him and gradually make it his own. If our second child is an adopted newborn, I'll feel the same sheepish awe I feel now sheepish because in my conviction that Charlie is deeply brilliant for, you know, learning to focus his eyes, I'm no different from any other parent, ever.
And I don't mean that I think I won't love this much again when another child joins our family. It'll be different, but I know it'll be good. I have my friends inside the computer to thank for that certainty; those of you who've written so honestly and beautifully about your adoptions have made me confident of that.
What I mean is as simple as this: this is my only chance to be a first-time mother. It's changing me, and for once I'm not talking about my rack. I'm learning surprising things about myself, inspiring and appalling things, things I otherwise never would have known.
Realizing this, I try very hard to stay in the moment. I try to let myself feel every emotion of his babyhood, good and bad. I try not to wish even the hard parts away, because they bring with them split-second glimpses of beauty and joy that don't come any other way. But there's a problem with living in the moment: once you've gotten good at it, it's hard to see beyond it.
On a day like today, it's hard to believe that some things will get easier, that Paul and I will have grown-up fun again, that one day Charlie will go for more than 30 minutes without needing something urgently, that eventually he'll make his needs known in ways that aren't uniformly unpleasant. I know those things are true, but when you live resolutely in the moment, you lose the knack of taking a longer view.
When you forget, because you're living so immovably in the moment, what everyone's told you that the naps will get longer, the nights will become more peaceful, the interactions will grow richer, that above all what bothers you now will change it's easy to sink into a shell-shocked sadness. I'm not convinced that living in the moment is everything it's cracked up to be, not when the moment's so hard.