July 7th 2005 was more than a little important but I remember things in clipped scenes, very clearly, slightly unreal, not quite my life. I remember the waiting, how our baby was weeks late, Maria in labor, the doctor beaming confidence, the midwives, the electronic fetal monitor, the ob residents ducking in for a peek, Maria stunning them and the doc with a well-timed joke, surgery, recovery room, natural childbirth that didn’t work out as planned, healthy baby boy big and pink, a grub in blue and white swaddling, the worried-relieved faces of her parents, our friends, the nice nurse, the mean nurse, how the hospital wouldn’t let me sleep in the chair next to her, driving myself across Brooklyn, not knowing how I got home, leaving an incomprehensible outgoing message on our answering machine. If I had any thoughts that morning, I couldn’t remember them that night let alone three years later.
We went swimming after an early dinner and tonight, like every night, we read stories on the chair and a half then went upstairs to get ready for bed. Like every Sunday, I gave Nate a bath. I dressed him for bed, closed the shades, pulled up the covers, turned on the fan, recited a litany of stay in bed and don’t get up too early and we love you that takes the form of a call and response. Settled him back to bed and repeated the exchange when he woke to use the potty. There’s a daily routine made up of little routines. Tomorrow he will be three years old. When he’s six I probably won’t remember what I was thinking about tonight. The routines will be different. The mental scrapbook full of what he said and did, that like every parent I say I should write down, or video, so that I won’t forget but don’t, dog-eared and faded next to a stack of crisp postcard memories from a very long day in summer 2005.
Happy third birthday Nathan.