He lays across my shins. An odd spot for sure, but he’s a toddler, so everything he does is a bit odd, a bit exploratory, a bit like something I wouldn’t choose. I can feel his heartbeat in the bones of my shins and I have to wonder how this can be comfortable. I raise my leg a bit, just to nudge him into shifting. He stays put. His soft breathing is audible. The sound of his little breaths, the sweet sighs and little sniffs, is all I can focus on.
I’ve been a biological parent for two years. One might think that the wonder would have worn off a little by now, but honestly, even in the hardest moment of parenthood, I feel completely enamoured. I like to joke that he’s ‘a wee demon’, but it’s not just a joke. Some days, I find myself crying on the sofa, or on the toilet, or on the kitchen floor. 90 percent of my waking life is spent with my child, and today, before he’s laid his heavy little body over my shins, I haven’t had a single moment alone. He spent two hours crying this morning; wailing and screaming while I held onto him, doing my best impression of an anchor in his storm. I did my best to find the source of his disquiet, and tried a hundred things to ease his pain.
His heartbeat is strong and unfailing, so unlike my own. But 30 years of heartbreaks and arguments and parties and too loud friends and grief and music is what’s given my heart it’s uneven tempo. It’s also the beat he grew to, the sound that cradled him in his earliest incarnation and the one he still leans against me to hear when he’s troubled by all the many things that trouble two-year-olds.
The weight of his body and the cut of his ribs are making me uncomfortable. I tell him it’s time to stand up, please. He doesn’t budge, but when I wiggle my legs he begins to laugh. Please, I ask him in an exaggerated, plaintive voice. This is very funny to him, so I do it again and again until his laughter rolls him over and off my legs. He lays on the floor, big eyes watching me with a wide grin splitting his chubby cheeks. There was nothing that solved the problem this morning, not exactly, just as there was nothing I could find that caused it, but it passed, and now he’s looking up at me like I’m the world and I’m laughing because his joy is infectious.
Samantha K Mosca is a jack of many trades: actress, writer, poet, academic, photographer, and editor. She is a bi-femme, immigrant, activist and a mum who spends her days chasing her wee toddler and her nights chasing her art. You can follow her general nonsense on twitter @xsyrinex and her photography on instagram @syrine_barathrum
Image: Image supplied by the Author