It’s getting to be that time of year in the Harris House; our Spring cleaning has begun. But we don’t call it Spring cleaning. I grew up in a military family, so we call it a GI party, because you have to get everything spic-n-span for the General Inspection. This usually involves a pretty thorough list of chores, though it may take us all of Spring and part of Summer to get to it all…
The other day, I was cleaning our bathroom (don’t worry, I do this more often than just in the Spring…), and I noticed about a hundred sets of baby hand prints all over each of our mirrors. Our Early Steps coordinator had encouraged us to have N play with “the other baby” in the mirror to help him learn social skills, study faces, and lots of other things. Our mirrors are messes, because we always let him play on them.
I should really wash them; they need a good scrubbing desperately. But I just can’t bring myself to wipe away his hand prints.
When we were in the hospital with him, I obsessively watched videos of him cooing and playing over and over again. I would repeatedly scroll through every photo I had of him on my phone. Those videos and images were almost all I had of my precious boy. Thank God, I still have him. But I’m still so afraid of losing him, I feel this urge to cling as tightly as I can to everything I have of him. I can barely stand deleting photos of him, even when they are so blurry you can’t even tell who it is.
What if I someday regret losing those hand prints? What if those pictures had been all I had?
Some days I am so overcome by this fear that I can barely breathe. I want to document everything, keep everything, cherish everything. More importantly than that, though, I have to be present in everything. And in order to be present with him and my family, I have to let go of these what ifs and these fears. I have to stop letting them define and limit me. I have to let him live, but I also have to let myself live.
I know eventually I have to wash my mirrors, but I’m not quite ready, yet. I will be someday.
Until then, I’ll take one day at a time.