Teetering between babyhood and toddlerhood, littlegorilla sits on my lap breastfeeding, in the wooden rocking chair on which each cousin fed in turn. He sucks, eyes wandering, feet kicking against the slats, then disengages and sits up. He arches his back to slide down my lap and takes a few directionless steps on his thin blue and red wool carpet. Turning back to me, he steps his way beside and then behind the rocking chair, into the corner of the room. Each lurch forward is a trick, a funny game. He laughs at his own joke in going someplace he hasn't been before and that is obviously not intended as a place to walk. I follow him, eying and ignoring the dust, raising the curtain before he can pull on it and bring down the unstable rod, mentally adding to my list of things to do, but outwardly staying calm and receptive to his baby-on-the-margins moment, smiling. He ends up circling the chair clockwise. I sit back down and he climbs back into my lap, and feeds from the other breast. After a few minutes, he disengages, sits up, slides down my lap, and this time steps around the rocking chair counter-clockwise, returning once again to feed, this time from the first breast.
Right breast, clockwise; left breast, counter-clockwise, over and over again.
He has mastered breastfeeding; he has no idea there is such a thing as weaning. Walking is a brand new accomplishment. Making unusual paths is fun and funny; these become circles, which are games. Littlegorilla cuddles and feeds, leaves and comes back, works and rests. He has drawn the circle, and he is inside; he is the drawer and we are the drawn. I let him draw me inside the circle. I let him leave. I let him come back.
The chair rocks, the broken spring a slanted squiggle pointing into the room and outside the circle of the moment. My list of things to do glows in neon letters just outside the circle, turned to their lowest by a dimmer switch (installing which is also on the list), but which I cannot fully turn off. This year, like all new mothers, I have found paths of mother-work and they have become my circles of routine, so that we can have these moments--so there is a chair, there is milk, he is fed and changed, there are curtains keeping out the light--but it is never enough; there is also dust, there are unstable curtain rods. Each moment is also time we don't have together. Around we go, around each other, until the darkness falls and sleep puts an end to it for the day.