Monday, September 14, 2015

Day 5.256

Dear Charlie,

Today you are 4 feet and change tall.  Today you are 61 pounds.  Today you are missing your top two front teeth.  Today you are silly and sensitive and fussy and sweet and observant.  Today you are 6 years old. 

I have never been so aware of your independent existence.  You leave me every morning without a glance back, go running up the bus steps, and for the next eight hours your life is yours.  You make choices, good and bad.  You eat your lunch too fast or leave veggies on your plate or trade someone for their milk, but I will never know.  You play games at recess I will never play with you.  Maybe you raise your hand for every question.  Maybe you don't.  You are wholly your own. 

When you come back home you are mine again, briefly.  I witness all the fights with your brother, the loss of your baby teeth, the way you like blueberry yogurt more than strawberry, how you always forget to write your name on the top of your homework until the end.  I see the dirt on the bottom of your feet because you can't be bothered to put on shoes to go play outside, it's just easier to rip your socks off and throw them in a corner.  I see you calling your brother to come find you, or I see you hiding with him under a blanket, two sets of feet poking from under the edge. 

I see that these are days I will never see again.  I don't know what you'll be like next year except for one thing:  you will be more your own and less mine.  Every year it will be so until one day, finally, you will leave my door and you won't come home.  It's meant to be this way, I know that, but I wasn't ready to actually see it.   

So, my 6-year-old, my birthday promise to you is that I will be less distracted for the rest of the days you do come home.  I will hug you when I feel like yelling.  I will take deep breaths and count to four and follow my own instructions to you.  I won't always get this right, but I'll try.  I love the you that isn't mine, that never was, your beautiful soul, and I love that soul for no other reason than its existence.  You love large and you try even when you're scared and you stand up for yourself and those you love.  You will be just fine when it's time for all of you to be entirely your own, but I hope you don't mind if I love the you that's still my boy extra hard this year.

Happy Birthday, Scooter.



Sunday, April 19, 2015

Day 5.119

So for the last couple years I've taken a day in April to do what I call "Day in the Life" (every year since Henry was born...except that first one, which I'm forgiving because HANDS REALLY FULL) .  On those days, I take a lot of pictures throughout the day, then choose the highlights from the time we get up until bedtime and make a record of...well, a day in our life.  It's meant to be a way for us (Mike and I) to really be aware of and embrace the way our life is at present, and a way for the kids to have something tangible of who they were growing up.  Also, it's my way of releasing ALL THE SAP, because if you let that crap build up, you start showing affection in public and that's when everyone hates you and it's really just better this way.

This April's "Day in the Life" (it was Saturday, not today, but it takes a while to sit down with these things and then weep openly and then organize it and blah blah blah) hit me super hard out of nowhere:  this is the last year recording our life as the parents of very small children.  I mean, the kids won't be adults next year at 4 and 6 or anything, but they also won't be babies anymore.  Or even toddlers.  Charlie will be in first grade, which is, like, legit big kid stuff.  And Henry will be a preschooler.  There will be no more diapers (...fingers crossed I didn't just jinx that), no more cribs, no more bibs, no more high chairs, no more nap time (we like to pretend we still have that now, just shut up and leave me alone with my illusions).  This is the year the door finally closes on that long, crazy, sweet, hard, so hard, chapter.  This is the year I thought would not ever come.  This is the year that came too fast.

I can't even count the times I've said -- and been 100% honest every time -- that I'm not a baby person.  I managed to not kill mine, to love them, care for them and nurture them and protect them as best I could, but I never was able to savor their infancy the way some people do.  With Charlie, my first, the postpartum depression was unexpected, unrecognized until much later, and WAY more than I was capable of handling.  I think I came out of it just in time to give birth to Henry.  And then there was a whole new set of issues with Henry and his birth drama and then having two kids and, and, and...  I'm not a calm, zen person.  You give me a situation in which to get whizzed out and I will whiz out.  Babyhood was one of those situations for me. 

But in the middle of the hurricane that is spanking new parenthood, I found moments.  In the rocking chair in the dark with Henry.  Watching Charlie chew on his own toes while we lay on my bed.  And now those moments are done.  I do not want them back; I don't want another baby and I don't want the ones I have to be babies forever.  I adore who my boys are and who they're becoming as they grow.  And yet.  None of that makes it any easier to know it's over.   

Anyway.  I say all that to say this -- I hate when people say, "Savor every moment, they'll be gone soon."  Every moment isn't worth savoring.  I'm more than happy to leave a big ol' chunk of them behind me.  Screw those moments.  But there are some, plenty, I do want to keep a death grip on.  So this is me, being an observer and being present at the same time.  It's us, at precisely 35 and 32 and 5 and 3.  It is waking up early, happy dogs forever, learning to read the alphabet all over again, bad haircuts on the front porch, "help" with the chores, ridiculous pink nail polish, potty training, temporary tattoos, permanent love of cars, and my whole heart.  Mostly, it's savoring and letting go all at once.