«i think i’ve come to a conclusion about motherhood. it seems to me, i’m pretty sure, that our main job as mothers is to find a way to make our babies stay. keep their babyhood close. memorize their every tiny inch. oh sure, we should make sure they’re fed and changed, and loved and swaddled, too, but mostly, most importantly of all, i think we just need to memorize them. from top to bottom. i’ve started to think there is nothing more important in the whole entire world we could ever possibly do.
almost as soon as huck was breathing he was changing too quickly. and in every moment after that first breath, even the most awful, i couldn’t quit the nagging fear that it was going to be gone too soon. and i wanted to keep it all, even the very worst moments, because the worst was still so inexplicably good. what came next was certainly going to be wonderful too, i knew that deep down, but somehow it gave me even more reason to hang on to him now, because i knew that i couldn’t, and so thereby, i had to.
i had to memorize him. it was my only hope of surviving the emotional turmoil of letting him grow up.
i had to memorize those cheeks.
i had to kiss them over and over and lock that spun sugar scent away for later.
his little mouth, and those pink gums, and all his little face wrinkles …
his long monkey toes, jutting out of those fat, fat feet …
and the elbow dimples.
oh i can recreate those elbow dimples on command in my eyelids as i fall asleep at night.
elbow dimples are the meaning of life, i’m pretty sure of it.
every little fleck in those eyes. get to know them by name.
the double chins, too.
and that spot, right there.
that spot belongs to mama. nobody else can have it.
that’s the spot where mama’s kisses go.
it’s important that we memorize, memorize, memorize, every tiny step of the way, every tiny shift in their tiny little bodies. because we are the keepers of their beginnings. ours to preserve and cherish. they can’t do it for themselves, those silly little babies, for they’re too busy growing up, too busy escaping those precious first months, too busy racing blindly away from that soft, squishy start. these little babies, they just grow so fast. they’ve moved beyond before they ever even started.
so this is our job, mamas. we are the keepers of babies.
babies don’t keep. but we do. we always do.»