Sunday, December 31, 2017

Dear Will - Two Years Old

Dear Will,

I wrote this letter on the day that you turned two. But as it sometimes happens, life intervened. It was Fourth of July weekend and there was family to be with and pools to jump in and popsicles to eat and a birthday party to plan, and publishing this somehow got lost in the shuffle. Yesterday you turned two and a half and it's snowy and cold outside and miles away from that steaming hot summer day when you walked around all day in your blue bathing suit telling everyone who would listen, "Will is two." But six months late is better than not at all, so this is for you, my not so little anymore baby boy, exactly as I wrote it then.


You are two years old today.

It's 6:40am and you are still sleeping as I write this. I can hear you stirring and I know that in a few minutes you'll be wide awake and calling for me. And I'll come scoop you out of your crib and you'll ask for milk and two pancakes and your blue iPad and I'll give them to you. And we'll sit on the couch together for awhile before anyone else wakes up and before I go downstairs to start working, you with your breakfast and YouTube videos and me with coffee and maybe a book. An ordinary day, celebrating a day two years ago that was decidedly less so.

You were born early, early in the morning. It was a Tuesday. The sky had just started to lighten when a nurse handed you to me for the first time. You were all wrapped up and so tiny that I had to pull the blanket down to get a good look at you. The room we were in was filled with a buzzy energy as doctors and nurses bustled around doing all the things that doctors and nurses do right after a baby is born, but none of it seemed to bother you. You laid there with me and looked around at things you couldn't really see yet with eyes that were already blue, occasionally fidgeting around in your blanket, barely making a sound as you got yourself acquainted with your new surroundings, closed your eyes for a quick rest, and repeat. Barely five minutes old and you were already a cool customer.

And I was tired. I think I was the most tired I have ever been in my entire life and I wasn't entirely sure that I wouldn't just fall asleep right there, my eyes drifting closed right along with yours. But even though every part of me was exhausted I couldn't stop looking at you, trying to see if I could see myself stamped on your face somewhere, wondering who you were exactly. Who you would be. Who I would be now that you were here.

It's been a two years since that early morning in the hospital, and we're no longer new at this, you and I. Our lives have long since settled into a routine, and it's been awhile since I thought about those blurry and chaotic early days. But two nights ago, I did. 

It was 6:00. You bounced up from the little table where you eat dinner now, your highchair retired, unused, to the corner of the dining room. You came running into the kitchen where I was loading the dishwasher and demanded a "possible" which is your word for "popsicle." I asked you what color you wanted and you said "orange. no, red. red possible." We went outside so you could drip that popsicle all over the place with abandon and run around for awhile before bed. You got busy right away lining up all the toys in the water table, running up and down the deck stairs into the yard, asking to go jump in the big pool, pressing the doorbell on your new playhouse to hear all of the different sounds, and examining all of the rocks in the fire pit. We spun in circles, and sang songs, and talked about how you were about to be two, and you decided you had enough of your red popsicle and asked for an orange one instead. And I gave it to you even though it was almost 7 because you asked and it's summer and sometimes being a mom means breaking the rules and staying outside to play and eat treats on a gorgeous night long after you should really be sleeping. And it seemed impossible that the newborn baby and this inexhaustible toddler running around in front of me could be the same person.

This is you, absolutely, at two years old. Bright and smiley, funny and curious, adventurous and brave and absolutely fearless. A lover of music and books and TV and veggie straws and absolutely anything with sugar. Full of fierce concentration when you're doing something that is important to you and delighted with yourself and with the world in general. Never walking anywhere when you can run, talking up a storm, and making us laugh every day with your sense of fun and your brand new observations on everything you see.

Last night, on your very last night of being 1, I put you to sleep, the same way I have almost every night of your two years. After you finished drinking your milk we sang some songs like we always do and then I put you in your crib. You jumped around for awhile and then laid your head down and we talked about your dreams - our routine since you really started talking a few months ago. Last night you told me you wanted to dream about colors and you rolled onto your back and started listing all the colors that you know and then you grinned up at me and said "hi mommy." And like it sometimes happens in those quiet moments while I'm putting you to sleep, the enormous gratitude - that you're here, that you're mine, that you're healthy and happy and silly and fun - reached up and grabbed me by the throat.

Since the day you were born I've always understood that it's the ordinary moments - and the quietest ones - that I'll always be the most grateful for. The moments I have time to stop and absorb, to know that I'll always be able to look back and remember how it was when you were small. Because even now, looking down at you in the crib you love so much, fresh from the bath and snuggled up with your beloved "Poppy blankey," I know that it won't always be like this. That one day you won't want to sing silly songs and talk about dreams and ask me a million questions so that I'll stay with you in your room just a little bit longer. This is the natural way of things, and that makes me happy and sad all at the same time and I wouldn't have it any other way. Motherhood is funny like that.

Happy second birthday my sweet Will. I love watching your grow, and I can't wait to see what comes next.

With love as big as the sky,


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