My second son came into the world on a rainy day with “El Fuego” in his eyes and in his heart. You could almost see it reflecting off the stainless steel instruments, gurney and in the sweaty forehead of the obstetrician as she placed him in my arms. I hesitated a moment. This baby was white and pink and angry where my other son had been so brown, tiny and willing. The first was a “Mexican baby” my papa had said with pride and I believed that I would have another just like it when my second baby came along. But this one was different. I didn’t recognize the appetite nor the robust fullness of his cheeks, his body covered in golden fur, his fists and feet so large.
We made friends that day in late October when the nurse handed the stranger baby to me in white cotton sheets and I pretended as though I had always known him. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, it was just that I didn’t see the kindness I saw in my older son, hadn’t dreamed of him before and I feared that what I didn’t recognize was perhaps a part of me I didn’t want to see.
This October, I was dressing as Frida Kahlo for Halloween and turned to put on my belt when I realized that it was stuck. I wrestled and heaved and pulled and then suddenly a hand was there telling me to hold still. “Gentle mama” the voice said as he fumbled with the stubborn apparatus. “Hold still,” he said to me and slipped the metal clasp into its twin. His little boy hands were feathers and his way was a whisper on me. “Amable mama.” And then my second son was off.