I’m standing on our back porch with iPhone in hand after talking to Wendy – Dr Snip’s personal assistant. She has a nice voice and seems pleasant and reminds me of Molly from A Country Practice and even though I’m swimming in a sea of self-absorption I still cross myself and pray that she doesn’t die of cancer.
I look out across the great expanse of yellowing grass that doubles as a public reserve and our backyard and feel a tug deep inside. There is emotion bubbling away and for some reason I remember the song Zip-A-Dee Do-Dah and there’s a bluebird sitting on my shoulder. Many years ago that song was a direct source of happiness for me but is now only a reflection of that – a memory that brings moist eyes and a half smile.
When I walk inside Maki is still playing at the toddler music table. He looks up at me with a cheeky grin and the emotion bubbles again. As I scoop him up dramatically he throws his head back with a squeal. When I kiss his warm neck he giggles. He’s my baby. My last one.
December 18th is approaching fast and as I mark the auspicious occasion on our brand new kitchen white-boards the bluebird whistles loudly on my shoulder and says, ‘Are you sure RD? No more babies?’ and I am overwhelmed by a collection of images that pass by – old world style - all silent and flickery and infused with a sense of longing.
There’s Archie’s shocked expression at his first chuckle. Lewis in the cot bundled in his muslin wrap, eyes open, waiting for me. Tyson fresh from the bath, centred in a large fluffy towel, erratic little arms and legs kicking for my attention. Maki’s post-birth look of confusion as I threaded his limbs through the opening of his first jumpsuit.
And then there’s the image of the baby that didn’t quite make it – a tiny grainy picture on a computer screen – and I wonder if that’s why I’m not quite willing to accept that my baby days are over. As irrational as it seems, I will always feel like I let him down.
I refocus on the white board and feel a tug on my leg and its Maki again, looking up at me with a smile, saying dadad like a scratched CD, already walking, already so big.
‘Come here, crazy boy,’ I say.
When I lift him up he takes purchase in the crook of my arm and starts pointing for this and that. His little game. He still needs me to come to him at night, to feed him in the morning, to bathe him and hold him and to keep him in sight at all times. But that will change. My other boys have taught me that. One day, during a sudden moment of retrospection, I will realise that his baby years have passed by so quickly.
‘Mr bluebird on my shoulder,’ I sing to him, just to see him smile and it occurs to me that I’ve never sung that song to him before, and with that the melancholy longing recedes a little and my head clears.
The joy is in the new, yes, but even when the baby days are over I will have newness for years and years to come. Taking my kids to the new things, watching them find the new things on their own, finding the new things through them.
Life has given me no greater reward than these kids and I’ll go to Dr Snip a little reluctantly – without the certainty that other men have – but with the knowledge that I still have much to discover with these four boys.
The date has been set. Our family is complete. Reservoir Mum, Archie, Lewis, Tyson, Maki and me.