Today you turn four.
You came into our room at 5:00 this morning asking for a cuddle. Normally when it’s that early we try to get you back into your own bed, but I wanted a cuddle too so I let you stay. You fell asleep promptly, your warm little self pressed against me, and slept until 8.
The first thing you did upon waking up was run around the other side of the bed to hug your dad and thank him for your birthday cake. You knew he was making one because you had helped him bake it and, while you had no idea what it turned out like or just how cool a cake it was, that one action says so much about the boy you are becoming.
Every day you do something like that and I am reminded again of how much love a mother can have for her child. I was consumed by that today – just full of awe about how much you’ve changed my world. I understand now why my mother always reminisces on our birthdays about how and when we are born. It’s my birthday, I remember thinking. Why is it such a big deal to you?
But it is a big deal because it’s life changing for a mother, in even more profound ways than for the child I think.
In the last couple of days I’ve spent so much time thinking about when you were born. How we tried the day before to get the OB to turn you around, but how you stayed stubbornly breech. How we left the hospital knowing we were coming back very early the next morning to bring you into the world. How I called my mom and we went out for dinner and ate huge bowls of pasta because I hadn’t eaten all day while we’d been waiting to see if the external version was going to go ahead. I remember my mom sitting at that table with us. I remember how she looked at us and how she was excited knowing she would meet her first grandchild the next day. What I didn’t know at the time was just how much she knew about what was about to happen to us and how little I did.
Because, truly, I had no idea.
Since that day, so much seems to have blurred together as I try to navigate my way through a world that includes you. How you have taken lately to letting out high-pitched shrieks that threaten to deafen the lot of us. How you use the couch as a tumbling mat despite us asking you repeatedly not to. How often you tell either your dad or I that you “didn’t listen” today (which, by the way, we’re well aware of). How you want to do everything yourself whether it’s appropriate or not and how you can have the granddaddy of all meltdowns if we say no. How, after four years, you still don’t reliably sleep through the night.
Those are the little things about life with you that become big things, and sometimes those big little things overshadow the other stuff. And then you spontaneously say or do something that reminds me of just how big a heart you have and what an incredible soul you really are, and I am again filled with gratitude.
You’re missing your friends from home lately and my heart breaks at the thought that we’ve moved you away from these small people you’ve known all your life and who have helped shape the person you are. You miss Grandma and Grandpa, and while I hate that too I feel blessed that you have in my parents the grandparents I would have wished for you.
I worry that you’re bored and that we should be doing more to stimulate you. I want to encourage you to do the things you love to do, like painting, playing with Lego, and cooking and baking, because in those moments I see how your mind works and how the world becomes meaningful to you and full of potential. And yet I feel stuck a little bit, trapped between your smartness and short attention span and my overwhelming lack of energy right now.
But I know this period in our life is short, and getting shorter by the day. In the fall you’ll have a new little brother – “my baby” you call him, and you’re so excited to meet him (even though you still sometimes think he’s a girl). This baby has always been “your” baby and in those words I see the big brother you’re going to be. Some days I wish we’d had another child sooner so you’d have a playmate like some of your friends do, but that’s not how it worked out. And maybe that’s for the best. You’ve had four years as the centre of our lives and you’re more than ready to take on your new role.
But for the next few months you’re still my baby, and I imagine — little brother or not — that is what you will always be.
I will love you always and forever,