I love my baby so selflessly, it’s extraordinary. When I wake up for the day my first thoughts are of the boy’s chubby chin and ways to make him giggle so that his eyes squint and his nose crinkles and he snorts his delight. He loves being outdoors, so every day I forgo my tendency to hermit, I pull breezy layers over my pale skin and slip dark glasses onto my face, and I take baby bubba on a tour of the neighborhood foliage without a second thought.
Yesterday, I took Bubba on one such outdoor jaunt. Imagine us as we stroll along the manicured neighborhood trail. I stop Bubba’s stroller and free him from its clasps so we can sit in the shade and feel the papery leaves of a fragrant bush near home. I point and repeat the words “leaf” and “dirt” and “flower” as we play, and I try to avoid the word “bug”. Bubs gets so excited feeling the leaf that he scrunches his little face and balls his little fists and flaps his little arms. He tries to shove the leaf into his mouth, but I’m fast enough to distract him with a daisy. Bubs concentrates on grabbing the dainty flower petals with his finger tips, and he misses, and he tries again three more times before he screams and throws the daisy and grabs a fistful of grass to thrust into his mouth. That silly boy. I laugh and remind him to be gentle, I hold his hand softly until it relaxes and releases the blades, and I kiss his hand and his head and his cheek. Bubba yawns and rubs his little eyes to signal nap time.
We go inside (my favorite place), and I shake off the sun and crank up the AC. I take Bubba upstairs, and we begin our nap time routine. Once Bubs is snug in his sleep sack, I sing softly and sway him a bit before settling in to feed the sweet boy his bottle. I’m still hot as we rock in our chair, but Bubba is guzzling contentedly so I remain seated and shift my weight to catch more of the cool air from the AC vent. I adjust Bubba’s neck so it’s cradled in the crook of my arm. I ignore the sweat beading beneath my hairline and itching my scalp. I hadn’t realized it was so hot out, and now I’m a bit concerned, but Bubs doesn’t seem overly warm. The bead of sweat has fully formed and begins trickling slowly down my forehead. Bubba is still eating his bottle so my hands are occupied. I try to ignore the sweat as it reaches my eyebrow. Its spindly legs flail into my line of sight before it stops, makes a right turn, and heads back up my forehead to my hairline because it is not sweat, it is a freaking bug of unknown type.
Bubba is peaceful and inches away from sleep, so I refrain from screaming. I pull the bottle ever so slightly away from Bubba’s mouth to check if he has finished, and he sucks it back to position in answer. It takes superhuman self control to not shudder and jump and ninja kick the unknown bug off of me. My skin crawls with every tickling step the invader takes, and my mind races with options, of which there is only one: wait. I try my best to zen. I calm my breathing. I notice my foot is tapping, so I stop. I release the tension in my shoulders. I pray silently to whoever is listening that the unknown bug is friendly and does not fly. I feel something tickle my ear, my ankle, my lower back. I imagine bugs crawling all over my body. My eyes begin to water so I gaze at my baby boy as he eats. I trace the curve of his nose with my eyes and watch his tiny lower lip working the milk from the bottle. I watch as his jawline wags and his little neck swallows. I want to smack the bug so bad it hurts. Stupid, stupid outdoors. Why, oh why, don’t I live in a sterile bubble?
Bubba finally finishes. He pulls off the bottle, he smacks his little lips and turns his head towards me, and he sighs as he slips into slumber. My heart soars with love and also with near-freedom. Hallelujah! I carefully set the empty bottle on the crib railing and stand. I move deliberately to disturb the babe as little as possible. I place Bubba in his crib and pat his little bum as I whisper night night. I pad to the door and silently slip into the hall. I close Bubs’ door and sprint into my room, where I turn in circles smacking my head and whisper screaming because ohmigaaaaawwwwd get off get off get off get off of meeee!!! I shudder and dry heave and strip my clothes off of my skin as I trip into the shower to scald anything that might still be roaming my scalp.
Once I’m sure I am clean, I think back to my baby boy enjoying the grass and leaves. I smile, remembering Bubba’s concentration face as he tried to pinch the daisy’s petals. I shudder again. I duck my head back under the streaming water, and I laugh, because I know already that we will head back outside after Bubba wakes. I sigh and turn the water off, and as I towel my bug-free skin dry, I marvel deeply at this extraordinary mom love.