It's a vivid memory.
Luca is in his highchair and I am feeding him. He must be around seven or eight months old.
Something happens. I do something funny. Or maybe he does. Either way, it's funny and we're laughing.
He has laughed before. By this age, he must have laughed a thousand times.
But this time is different. This time, the laugh comes straight from his belly. He is really belly laughing. He really gets the joke.
And something about the way he laughs is like sandpaper on my heart. It leaves me raw, exposed.
In that laughter, I see my son. Really see him. Not just as my baby but as a person. There is something so real, so human in that laugh.
He is so very beautiful and so very real in this moment and it exposes his vulnerability and along with it, mine.
He won't always be the baby that I can protect. Every day he grows faster towards his future. And it will be necessary for me to let him do that. By letting go.
It is such a vivid memory.
And now, I have two little people (and almost three) whose smallest actions can leave me with a sandpapered heart.
It's an agony only a parent can understand. An exquisite agony that you wouldn't trade for the world but that you know has left you forever more exposed.
Our children are real and eventually they will meet the world, which is also very real.
I am forever more exposed.