Baby to Boy and Mommy to Chair

Today was my son’s last day of his two day a week two-year-old class at preschool. Next year he will be moving up to three day three’s. I have been so pleased with his first school experience, and so amazed at his transformations this year.

When he started school in September he had just weaned from nursing and was still exclusively in our bed. He was still in diapers. He had a very limited vocabulary and had never been in anyone’s care besides my husband and I and very limited time with grandparents. He was still my baby.

As this school year ends, I see all of the changes he’s gone through this year. He is a very good eater with a large palate. His favorite food is broccoli. (That’s weird, right?) He is fully potty trained, even at night. We have been totally out of diapers and pull ups since February. He has a big boy bed, and now divides his time between his room and ours. It will not be too long until he’s sleeping in his big boy room all alone. His vocabulary is extensive and he is very verbal and articulate. His verbal skills are his greatest asset and his teachers say he is “advanced.” He is now comfortable under other’s care, and has thrived in the school setting, at a local play place, and has even had a babysitter come to the house and watch him. He is a boy.

The year between birth and age one is significant with so many fast changes. The year from age one to two was challenging for me in terms of his behavior; he hit his terrible twos early. This year, between age two and age three has been the most striking in terms of his development. It is amazing to see the transformation from baby to child in just one year.

Things have changed for me, too. I started his school year as a nervous first time parent. I was the room mother and attended parent council meetings, and developed some acquaintances. Through his transformation I have found my own, and have become a more confident and balanced parent. (Those two mornings alone a week have allowed me to regain some sanity.) Today, I was asked by the director of the pre-school to be the chair of parent council for next year. Apparently the current chairman, in coordination with my son’s teachers, recommended me.

I said yes. I’m honored to be thought of and to be establishing a community for myself as we all navigate our places in Richmond. I may be writing about how overwhelmed I am in the fall, but for right now I’m pretty excited about it.

So here I am being the mommy that I always wanted to be; the one that gets to stay home with her little boy and do things like bake cookies and have play dates at the playground and serve as chair of the parent council. It’s exciting.

But we all know (if you’ve read this blog at all) that my life is far from perfect. Being a stay at home mom who chairs the parent council won’t make it perfect, either. But it is the fulfillment of an image of what my mommy life could be like.

I can’t wait to see what happens during this next year of transformation.

(Also? I promise not to turn into one of those crazy parent council chair moms. I’ll try to be a cool one. And I’ll totally bake you some cookies.)

The Bad Dream

I had to wake my son up this morning for him to go to school. I started with a gentle calling of his name and rubbing his back.

Immediately he started yelling, “The baby!!” “Mommy get the baby!” I didn’t know what to tell him. “What baby, sweetie?”

“The baby! Get him OUT!!!” Then he started hitting me and crying huge tears. I must have had a shocked or horrified look on my face and I didn’t know what to do. I held my arms out to him and tried to hold him. He hit me while I held him and he cried, but I was finally able to start calming him down.

I held my two-year old son in my arms and rocked him back and forth, back and forth while he calmed his tears. After a minute, I asked him, “Did you have a bad dream?”

“Yes,” he whimpered.

“About a baby?”

“Yes,” he whimpered again.

“Was the baby stuck?” He nodded his head.

“Where was he stuck?”

“I don’t know,” he said and erupted in another stream of tears.

“It’s ok, it’s ok. Everything’s ok,” I said as I rocked him back and forth back and forth. “The baby’s ok. It’s ok sweet boy.”

I continued to rock him back and forth and hold my sweet little boy as he recovered from his bad dream.

I was terrified to see him so distressed. I was terrified to have him hit me because he never acts that way. I was terrified for what that dream meant. Does he remember being born? Was he the baby that was stuck and I had to get him out? It scared me to see him so scared about a baby stuck in a dream.

I still have so much angst from his birth and I am terrified that he is somehow also traumatized by the way he came into this world.

I just want to make his world safe and comforting. I hated that he woke up so distraught but I am so glad I was able to hold my big baby boy and rock him back and forth back and forth and take all of his fears away. At least for this morning.

Not a Baby Any More

I still refer to my little boy as a baby, or the baby, or the baby thing, or some variation of the word baby. Tonight at dinner, my husband said, “You know, he’s not a baby anymore.”

People have been telling me that lately..

In a recent three-way phone conversation with two of my best girlfriends (I know, that’s such a highschool thing to do right? I love it) we were getting off the phone for the night when my friend A said, “Say good night to the baby for me.” Both myself and my pregnant friend L said ok. A said, “Julia, I wasn’t talking to you! You don’t have a baby anymore!” I was very shocked at her statement and I think I let that be known through a shrieking “WHAT??!!!” or something else equally refined.

Then, just this past week, my sister told me that my little boy is not a baby anymore. And while on a playdate this week, a mommy friend commented about how nice it is that our boys are “out of the baby stage now.”

I know he is growing up and leaving baby things behind him in his wake of toddler tantrums. I know that he is no longer nursing, and instead he decides what he wants to eat and feeds himself. He has a large vocabulary and communicates well. He picks out his own clothes and puts on his own shoes. He walks and runs and hops and destructs. He imagines monsters and reads stories. He brushes his own teeth and feeds the cats. He has even mastered the potty.

Most days, he is an independent young man who wants to do everything “all by my nelf.” But then there are days when he asks for my help. Days when he curls up in my lap and just wants to “cuddle mommy”. There are moments when he curls up in my arms and rests his head against my chest, or runs up and hugs me with such ferocity that he takes my breath away.

I know he is growing up, and that to the rest of the world he has turned from a baby to a child.

But I have the distinct advantage of being his mommy. How incredibly lucky am I to see him for all of who he is and for all of who he has ever been? When I look at him, I see the two-year old that is running around my living room, I see the one-year-old with tentative first steps, I see the 6-month-old crawling away on an adventure, and I see the eyes of the baby that I stared into every day while I nursed him. I can see all of him, at every stage, in just one glance.

What a gift it is to be a mother; to see him as an evolution and a constant in the same moment. To see his maturity and his innocence in the same fragment of time. To witness him grow, but never change. For in this beautiful boy is, and will always be, my baby. What a gift it is to know, that even as he continues to grow and change and turn from baby, to toddler, to child, to man, I will always know him as the best part of myself.

And so he remains, eternally, my sweet baby boy.