If you look back on this blog at stories of yourself, you may see a mom who was slowly coming unraveled. From the minute you were born, you seemed to challenge your dad and I in new and exciting ways. Last night, on the eve of your sixth birthday, you lay awake in my bed, or in your own bed, moaning and screaming in agony. You had a mysterious “Cheek pain”. Maybe a tooth? Maybe a cold-sore? Maybe insomnia? As always, I didn’t really know and that made your sadness even worse. I tried all my tricks, including, I’m embarrased to say, obvious frustration. I am sorry for not being Mom Enough to take you in the middle of the night. Call it inherited (my mom was notorious for her nighttime fails), call it a little PTSD from the early days. Whatever I blame it on, I’m sorry. You deserve more than I give.
Last night was very reminiscent of your first two years when nothing we did seemed to soothe you-especially in the middle of the night. It was as if you knew, from the first day you opened your eyes on the outside, that there was more to life than this and you were pissed at the short straw babies draw.
Some people say kids have old souls. We used to say it about your sister all the time. It was like she’d been here before and she knew what to expect next. Then you came and redefined our notion of that. You spent a good many years seemingly disappointed at the way things were turning out. When you were old enough to talk, you began telling us your feelings and we were right all along-you knew there was more to it and you were mad it wasn’t here yet.
Infancy was a challenge, to say the least. I’m not exaggerating when I say dad and I didn’t sleep through the night for two solid years, because neither did you. We moved to New Jersey and you slept. See? You know all along when there’s more to the story.
Here you began toddling around barking orders at everyone in your path. The sleep didn’t seem to soothe you much. But at least I was rested enough to begin finding you cute. The Generalissimo, dad dubbed you. Short, loud, incoherent dictator you were. You cared nothing that we didn’t understand the words, you were going to bark them at us anyway.
When preschool years came, it broke my heart every day knowing I was leaving you somewhere you had no desire to be. No matter how great the school (and it was great) you wanted to get out. But I couldn’t just let you stay home all day because you and I, well frankly, we’d had enough of eachother for a while. So you went, kicking and screaming through preschool. Reminding your teachers and me and anyone else who crossed your path, that you were mostly miserable.
Suddenly, in your sixth year, it has settled into place. You skip to school every morning. Your eyes are filled with a brightness every day that never appeared longer than a fleeting moment in the past. You are still whip-smart about everything. There is reading and book (or Jeopardy) knowledge, but there is also a social knowledge that allows you excellent comedic timing and a way of interacting with adults that leaves an impression on their hearts. I can’t tell you how many times I hear, “Oh, that G”. Sometimes with awe, sometimes trepidation but mostly, you make people smile.
You are a snuggler. You love your parents and your siblings and your friends and your teachers. Oh, the love for your teachers is so ferocious it’s as if you’ve stored up every ounce of it over the years of school to spread upon Mrs. H and Mrs. F as much as they can take. Sometimes, we have to reign in that love so you don’t knock someone over with it. Nothing you do is small.
My sweet, stubborn six year old. It’s been a long road of sad and frustrated and misunderstood but today you are filled, over-filled with simple, beautiful, heart-melting joy and it is glorious.
It has been a long road to get here, but if the destination is Current You, then I wouldn’t change a single brick along the path.
Happy Birthday Baby Boy.
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This is a beautiful post! And I’m pretty sure we gave birth to the same boy a year apart!
They’re exhausting but worth it, right?
Laura Dennis says
Love love love. What a great letter, I hope he reads it one day and appreciates it. Probably not. That’s just how kids are.
Ha! Isn’t that the truth. Maybe when he’s a parent he’ll finally appreciate it.;)