Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Not just any toddler jacket
I can vividly picture the day, 14 years ago this month. Dave and I took Max to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. First, we cruised around Central Park. Max's stroller was tricked out with toys to entice him to use his hands. Sometimes, he'd swat at them but grasping wasn't yet in his repertoire of movements. Every once in a while, as we walked, I'd lean over and try to get him to hold a toy. It made me so anxious that he couldn't.
Then we roamed around the museum, pointing out colors and shapes to Max and trying to be like any first-time parents on an outing with their baby. We desperately wanted some sense of normalcy in the otherwise tumultuous year we'd had.
Back then, I took a lot of comfort in Max's cuteness. I'd dress him in adorable outfits and do photo shoots. This tan corduroy jacket was one of my faves, Baby Gap toddler size 12 to 18 months, lined with red fleece on the inside. Max looked like such a little man in it.
Decking Max out was another touchstone of normalcy. Maybe he wasn't babbling or crawling, but damned if he wasn't going to be as well dressed as any baby. The competition, of course, was all in my head, this desire to somehow keep up with the other tots even if he was lagging behind. It would be a while before I came to accept that Max would develop on his own timeline.
Long after Max outgrew the jacket, it stayed in our hall closet. Through the years, I'd do outerwear purges but I never could bear to get rid of that jacket. It wasn't just because I thought we might someday have a third child; mainly, it was a reminder of how far both Max and I had come. He was no longer that little boy missing all the milestones. I was no longer that mom grieving it.
And so, the jacket was there for the wearing when Ben needed something cozy last weekend. Gleefully, I put it on him, and it did not disappoint. Like the Invisibility Cloak in Harry Potter, it is a garment with special powers: it brings out the cute.
I flashed back to that uncertain time in my life. I felt compelled to dig up photos of Max in that jacket. Yet when I looked at Ben, all I saw was another adorable little man rocking corduroy. The jacket had moved along to its next existence, and so had I.