What a Beautiful Mess

Ezra’s room got to be a real mess today. Last night’s footie pjs are on the floor because they never made it into the hamper this morning. There’s a pile of clothes on top of the hamper that needs to be hung up. There is a box of infant gas relief drops that needs to be put away. There are numerous spit-upon burp cloths strewn about the room.

I’ve just gotten him put back into those footie pjs, wrapped into his swaddle, and placed into his crib. I’ve decided to take this time, while he starts to fall asleep, to clean up the room. I start first with the blankets on the floor—two big, adult-sized blankets on either side of a small, baby-sized buffalo blanket. We all laid on the floor this afternoon, with Ezra in between us, and watched as he learned how to play with crinkle paper. It was a Christmas gift to him from my Nana. I got to open it Christmas morning, about 48 hours before he was born. He’s just learning how to open and close his hands and grasp onto things, so we’ve begun experimenting. We laughed and laughed and laughed as he figured out what he was capable of: using his tiny hands to smash the paper and make noise. An up-and-coming musical prodigy.

After Daniel left the room to make dinner, I took a video of Ezra lying next to me on the floor, and he smiled at his own image on the screen. He’s wearing a “Daddy’s Best Friend” onesie today. And buffalo booties that have become a three-month staple.

I asked him, “Whose baby is that?” and then, “Whose mama is that?” Big smiles from both of us.

And then he immediately threw up on me—on my shirt (which already has a giant spit-up stain from this morning), in my hair, and on my hand. I caught it on video. I had a huge laugh. He looked at me like I was nuts.

I’m moving on now to hang up that pile of laundry from the hamper—the clothes my son has grown into. Can you believe that? He’s right next to me, and I can’t believe how big he’s gotten. I can’t believe we have the privilege of watching him grow. He is already bigger now than his sister was, and he will be forevermore, despite being the little brother. That breaks my heart, for missing her, and makes it soar, for joy of watching him grow, simultaneously.

There is a tub of preemie clothes in the closet that needs to be taken upstairs. We had no idea before he was born that he would need preemie-sized anything. He was so tiny. And now, he can’t wear those, or his newborn clothes, anymore. That breaks my heart. But it also feels like an absolute miracle. Because I know what an absolute miracle it is.

Next, I’ll probably tackle the handful of balloons lying on the floor. We blew them up yesterday and tied them to strings because I saw a video of a baby about Ezra’s age, giggling because the balloons, tied (gently) around his legs on the opposite end, wiggled as he kicked. We tried it with Ezra. He liked it for a moment but then realized he was ready for a nap, and the moment was quickly over. We’ll try again another day. Now the balloons lie, deflated, on the floor. Two pink ones and one green one, for Eleanora.

I had to step away just now to go comfort the baby. He sometimes has a bit of separation anxiety when he’s put down for a nap. I get it. I spent the first two months of his life terrified to close my eyes or even be in a separate room from him. I love that he misses us as much as we miss him, even just in sleep. His bedtime playlist—one that I didn’t put together but found just after we brought him home from the hospital—is playing on my phone. I looked down at him in the crib and couldn’t help but get weepy. These songs have rocked him to sleep for nearly three months now. I’ve played those songs for him so many times, deep in the middle of the night, while one of us rocked him. A lot of times I cried, out of gratitude that he’s here, out of fear of losing him, out of sheer sleep deprivation, out of missing his sister so deeply it physically hurts. Now I’m crying because I know that someday he won’t need me to stand over the crib, rub his forehead, and tell him, “It’s okay. I’m right here. It’s okay to sleep.”

But today he does need those things. Someday he’ll be able to clean up this mess of a room on his own. Someday there will be backpacks and a desk and video games and muddy rain boots. But today there are deflated balloons, and spit-upon burp cloths, and blankets, and clean laundry, and cleanup is my job. And what a joy it is to clean all of it up. What a joy it is to pick up the evidence of time spent together.

What a joy it is, just to have him here.

He’s just fallen asleep. I think I’m going to sit down in the nursery chair, listen to the lullabies as they play over and over on repeat, and just enjoy every breath I get to watch him take, in and out, in and out.