You start the day with a rumble, then a growl followed by a yowl. The red light on the baby monitor flashes its alert “Get up!”
I go to you and open the venetions singing an aubade from the ‘Hair’ soundtrack as I unpack you. ‘Good morning starshine, the earth says hello, you twinkle above us, we twinkle below.’
Dad has already fed you some hour or two earlier so you’re content to start the day with our little song. Giggle, rub eyes, the swag gets unzipped and you stretch out for bear. Tickles, kisses then up for bed-cuddles where you grasp at our hair and poke twiddly little fingers into our mouths (such interesting caves of treasures: tongue and teeth!).
Uppity up, rolls on the floor, weeties and banana or pear in your highchair then kiss Dad bye-bye, pull on his hat and tie and we begin our long and languorous day.
Little bug, one day you may learn all about science and maybe even quantum physics, but for now just now this. We trick time every day by keeping our world very small in space and distance covered. Before your morning nap it’s off in the stroller up and down and round and round the local streets, stopping in the village for my coffee and your flirty little smiles at strangers and local folks alike. Michael the Lebanese pizza man pulls faces and says he’ll steal you. The ladies in the newsagent grin and coo and sometimes can’t resist tugging one of your perfect little fingers. On our way home I give you a flower or leaf and point out the cats. I sing as I walk, completely unabashed in my wailing of blues or showtunes, and people behind fences are benign when they hear us pass with our song.
In the lounge again you roll or commando crawl, and Whiskey-cat eggs you on with her teasy little half-skips away: ‘come and catch me, yes you can’.
Back to bed for you Mr Finn, Finn-bo, Finn-de-do. Sometimes you resist and I have to sing “All aboard the sleepy-train, all aboard the sleepy train, all aboard the sleepy train, we’re going to Sleepy Ville’. While you snooze I potter about doing housework, perhaps whipping up your favourite mashed peas or fish stew meals to freeze. Its only 10.30 and we’ve already tricked time, so much day still ahead. There is your ‘wake-up poo’ that I sing to: ‘Let’s have a look at your bum chum, let’s have a look t your nappy, Pappy, cause your bum might glum chum, and we want it to be happy, happy happy, happy-happy!’
After your lunch we often take train trips: To Yarraville for faces and shops, or to Altona Beach for vast sea views and the smell of the pines. You love being out on the pier, the rumble of planks under the stroller wheels massages you into doziness and your eyelids soften against the glare of silver water and sky.
We spend a lot of time on th floor together as you learn to first grasp, then grab, then sit, roll, spin and finally do a high speed tummy crawl around the place. Cuddles and tickles and books are had. You love ‘Maisy’ and ‘Does a cat wear glasses’ but you hate ‘the Very Hungry Caterpillar’ and cry when you see the butterfly. You cry from tooth-pain too, and some days we just get by together cause your mouth is sore and you feel miserable. That’s when you get rusks and cold watermelon and your gums rubbed with Bonjella. On those days I get tired and sad that I can’t help and I’m grateful when your Dad gets home.
There’s another nap or two (lucky you) and each time you wake up happy and I am happy with you as I breathe in the gorgeous sweet smell your baby-breath has filled the room with. So the days roll on, small in the physical world we traverse, enormous in the learning and feeling and wonder. Time stretches out like a seemingly endless ball of string.
But there is an end, and this particular ball is at its.
Tomorrow I return to work part-time and hand you over into the loving hands of your Dad each day. With him you’ll play in new ways and learn new things.
And though I’m sad as I say farewell to this beautiful time spent with you I know we’ll always have had it, I will always be here to touch and tangle limbs with.
I am your touchstone, the giver of leaves and flowers, the maker of songs of games.
You will grow away and be fierce in your independence, but I will always be your singer of morning starshine, your Mum.