Today marks the week-versary of his birth. Billy’s been Earth-side for a whole seven days.
It’s funny, the way things are now. I can’t tell you the number of friends who have said — Look at you with two kids! I still can’t believe you’ve made your own proper little family!
Little family – I’ve been congratulated so much on my Little Family, because the strangest thing is, that’s how it feels now. It’s not just Billy who is being celebrated, it’s all of us now; the way we all fit together like tiny jigsaw pieces. It’s a difficult thing to describe, this dynamic change I never anticipated. It’s as though Ella turned me into a mother, but Billy turned us into a family.
There is so much to write about, and it will fill these pages soon. His birth story is nearly finished after an incredibly cathartic five-hour writing session, Bon Iver on repeat and a box of tissues nearby. There’s the one-kid-to-two transition which could easily have me writing for days. There’s the mushy-gushy love stuff and the millions of moments each day I simply stop and stare and cry and say to Joel, Look at us. Look at what we’ve done. And then there’s the laundry. Oh my God, the laundry.
But for today, it’s important for me to honour his first week. His Week of Firsts. Things like, Oh my God, Joel! This is the first time we’re driving with two kids in the car! Joel! Our first outing together as a family! His first night snuggling with us in bed and how I could barely sleep because I was so giddy and love-drenched and high. The first time Ella held him and how I cried even more when I saw Joel crying too. The first time he peed all over us, and himself. They’re like mini-fire hydrants those things. Ho-ly.
What will always stand out for me this week was our first cliff walk; my most favourite place in all of the world — the walk down at our beach which I have been dreaming about doing with a newborn nestled in my sling and Joel and Ella scurrying ahead of me for nine months now. The exact walk we did the day before Billy was born.
It was utterly surreal and completely normal all at once, much like the week surrounding it. What I remember most is smiling to every stranger that passed by so hard I’m sure they thought I’d just downed a couple of ecstasy pills. One elderly man even tipped his hat and nodded his head as he passed me and I nearly erupted into this kind of spasm since I’m sure he only did it because he was admiring how perfect my baby was and how freaking amazing my life must be.
While one is busy parading their newborn baby around, pride popping from one’s eyes like a bottle of champagne, obviously the whole world stops in their tracks for one to pass, revered into dazzled silence. Obviously.
The second thing I remember most is reminiscing about the last time we took this walk — the day before Billy was born — and all the things I was feeling. Joy, certainly, but mostly that an era was ending and how bittersweet that felt. Looking back now, of course, things are vastly different. Perhaps an era has ended, but not in the way I anticipated. Closings, endings — they all imply the cessation of something; that something terminates, that there is loss.
If I have lost anything, it certainly isn’t my daughter, which I feared. How I thought I’d lose her, I’m not even sure. You know what she does? She looks at me and smiles so big, so proudly, that I can’t even see her eyes anymore and she says, “Big sister. Ella, big sister“.
It takes all I have not to bury my face in her neck and sob like a crazy person because I realize now that the only thing we’ve lost is that absent space where he was supposed to be. There are no spaces anymore. We’ve given her the greatest gift we ever could — a brother to belong to — and I don’t know a lot, but I sure as hell know that loss is the last word I’d use to describe this changing of our family’s season.
If anything, we’ve gained the entire universe.
More to come.