Yesterday was all about Charlie (well, mostly) and I will post more on that later. But, Valentine's Day makes me think of Kingsley. My mind keeps going back to Valentine's Day 2008. There is no way for me to know for sure, but I feel like I broke someone's heart that day. My gut still twists into knots when I think about it.
That was the first day, the first time, that Kingsley met his new brother. It was also the first time he saw his Mama after spending his first night away from me. Unless my mind fails me in old age (or sooner), I will NEVER forget the look on his face when he walked into my hospital room. His expression was unusually and oddly complex for a 22 month old. It was a look of happiness and relief to see me, but in the same moment a strange realization of something completely different, of not being the center of attention, and an "oh by the way---why are we here in this strange room---and what, or who, is that that you are holding?" sort of look. I do not think I could ever put into words all that was going on in his mind in that split second. I do know that things have never been the same. In many ways that is more than OK (the understatement of a century) and life is SO good and SO sweet with my two boys. But, there is a tiny, tiny piece of my heart that still misses my one-on-one time with Kingsley.
Maybe it was my heart that broke that day. It was so hard to let go of Kingsley, let go of being his "just about everything". Until the day Charlie was born, I was the one who bathed and put Kingsley to bed every night. I was the one who fed him every meal. I was the one who took him to the park every day. I changed 95% of his diapers. And I really loved it. Papa would join us at the park on the weekends, Papa would help change diapers when he was home and help feed Kingsley too. I don't mean to sound like a single parent and I am not complaining (Jeremy works super hard so that I have the privilege of staying home to care for the boys full time)---I only mean to illustrate the bond, the dependency, the closeness that my firstborn and I shared.
I still recall the physical pain, or more of an aching, that I felt the first time Barka (the boys' grandpa) and Jeremy took Kingsley to the park after Charlie and I returned home. I know that they were helping me out, giving Kingsley much-needed attention, and also getting to spend some quality time with him too. But, I recall wanting to go with them SO badly. I wanted to go too. I didn't want to miss a second of what Kingsley was doing. Did he go on the swings first? Was he finally able to master the ladder on the climbing structure? Did he point out birds, airplanes and ladybugs? It seems so trivial now, but I had rarely missed any of those moments until then. And it bothered me.
And it still bothers me, but not in an ungrateful way---if that makes sense? I just wish I could do it all, all the time. I am so happy and so relieved that Jeremy takes over at bath time so I can clean up after dinner. I am so happy and relieved that Jeremy reads Kingsley a story and puts him to bed when Charlie is too tired to sit through story time. I am so grateful that Jeremy gets Kingsley breakfast on mornings he doesn't have to be at work real early. But, I would be lying if I said I didn't miss doing all of those things for and with Kingsley all of the time. I knew I would have to let go of my baby sometime, I just didn't foresee the beginning of it starting so soon, at such a tender, young age.
But, change is good. It sometimes takes me a while to see it and embrace it. I see now the gift that we have given Kingsley too---the gift of a sibling. The boys are at an age where they are really starting to enjoy each other and care about one another. And it is precious to witness. I sometimes wonder if Kingsley ever remembers life without Charlie. I get glimpses of it, like when Kingsley (every once in a blue moon) wakes in the middle of the night and wants milk and to sit in the "chair"---the rocking chair that is now in Charlie's room for nursing---I know he still remembers the chair being in his room and remembers being rocked back to sleep. But, I think those moments will fade away for good, sooner rather than later.
Breaking hearts is hard to do, but it is necessary in order to gain a larger, stronger heart. Think of weight-lifting and building muscle mass. One has to strain, and sometimes injure, those muscle fibers in order for those muscles to strengthen and grow. This causes pain, soreness and takes much effort----but the pay-off is always worth it. The heart is just a big ol' muscle, you know. And mine is all the more stronger, and bigger, today.
Happy Valentine's Day 2009!
The picture is of Kingsley and Barka Valentine's Day 2008. Kingsley is eating the Valentine's sugar cookie that arrived on my hospital lunch tray.