"Um. Sure. No problem."
I come out from behind the kitchen island, wineglass in hand, to watch the baby. It's Christmas day, and the house is in merry chaos. Hell if I know where the baby's dad is, or where his mom is going.
The Baby has, til this point, been a symbol, a cipher. The Baby is the thing I cannot have again, due to health. But I look past the words The Baby to focus on this baby, my temporary charge. I squat down beside him, look into his big melty-chocolate brown eyes. "Hey, kid."
He looks up and grins.
He's a cute kid, 16 months old, the youngest of the seven running 'round the house today by a long shot. (Elayna is smack in the middle, and the only girl.) He's very curious about the pool, and I lock that door against him. "Hm. Hey. Want to help me clean up?"
He looks at me curiously.
I hold up a piece of the Hot Wheels track that he's scattered all over the floor, part of the next-youngest kid's loot. I slide it into its box with a silly "shoooop!" sound. "Help me?"
He giggles and grabs a piece, and I grab another piece, and we work industriously. I teach him how to high-five, and we high-five after each successful slide, each "shoooop!" When we're done, he tries to investigate the pool again, stumblerunning fast, and I scoop him up: "Whoa! Pools are not for munchkins!"
He's heavy. Elayna was not this heavy at this age; she was never heavy in this way. This kid is built solid. Maximum pudge. Not fat, mind. Just very solid.
He laughs, even though he's been thwarted, and I laugh back and bink his nose, and this is the first time in what, a year? that I've been near a baby without wanting to cry, or without going ahead and crying.
And I realize that it's okay.
I'm not going to have another baby. But it's okay. I'm okay.
His mom comes back and I hand him off, and I go out and watch my kid, running around with her cousins, golden hair bannering out behind her, laughing her wild laugh, and... if this is the only one I get, I'm okay.