I’ve watched my heart go cruising around outside of my body over the last week.  It’s been on daily walks to Hillhouse, to Many Glacier twice, to St. Mary once.

As I’ve watched my heart go cavorting through the valley, it’s occurred to me that nearly every gooey cliché I’ve read about babies and parenthood has somehow managed to stomp on my much practiced cynicism.  To my abject horror, all the clichés are true.  The love I feel for Maggie Rose is all encompassing, is frightening, is blissful.

She grasps my index finger with surprising strength and I become a pool of sweet salinity, even as my brain reminds me that such grasping is just a basic infant reflex, that Maggie is not consciously deciding to hold hands with me.

The bath water cascades over her full head of hair – “her natural color is the same as your unnatural color!” Honeydew exclaims – and causes her to offer me a mysterious infant smile, and my mind races.  Is she expressing happiness? Is she reacting to reflex? Does she have gas?  Does she like me?

We rock in my mother’s rocking chair, in a puddle of sunlight streaming into the Warehome windows, and she sighs contentedly, sleeping on my chest, and I feel like I am lit from within, as though I have ropes of Christmas tree lights for veins.

She makes eye contact with my aunt and my parents and they delight in her, happier than I have seen them in years, and I suddenly understand how much my Sissy and my parents love me, and I die a little bit at the thought that Maggie will not understand how much I love her until she has her first baby.  And I wonder if she could ever love me as much as I love her.

And the day flies by in a flurry of feedings, and phone calls to insurance agents and neonatologists and beeswax brokers, and pink dresses, and invoices to send, and invoices to pay, and suddenly the sun breaks over Chief Mountain, and dusk falls.

And I look at Honeydew and Maggie, snuggled together on the faded plaid couch, and I know that although one day soon I will not be quite as hormonal and crazed with baby love, that love as I’ve known it has been forever changed, as has that cynicism I’ve worn proudly, like battle armor, for so very long.

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