Turning Three: A Birthday Letter

My sweet boy,

The first year of life brings so many changes, but it has been this year between two and three that I have seen the most growth in you.

It has been this year, my sweet boy, that you have stopped nursing, have fully potty trained, and started sleeping in your own bed. (Some nights.)

It has been this year that you have stopped referring to yourself as “baby” and instead say “Noah.” You have even learned how to spell your name and proudly walk around saying “I am N-O-A-H Noah!” You have even learned to write the letters “O” and “H.”  My heart swells every time.

It has been this year you have decided you want to be a “digger man” when you grow up, and in the last few months you have changed your aspiring profession to “actor.” I will be proud of you no matter what you choose.

It has been this year that you have gone to your very first year of preschool, two mornings a week from 9 to 12. It was the very first time that you had ever been away from me, and though it was hard for both of us at first, we have both thrived with the expansion of your world.

It has been this year that I have seen you develop real relationships with your friends as you have moved from parallel play to interactive games.

It has been this year that you have mastered your motor skills. I’ve never been more proud of someone jumping in puddles or riding tricycles.

This year, you have established family roles. “Daddy is the cooker, Mommy is the cleaner, and I am the helper.” ~Noah summer 2012

Though you have always been a strong verbal speaker and communicator, this year your vocabulary has expanded and your thoughts are always expressed in complex sentences. I am often amazed at the way your mind works, and especially at the way you are able to tell me about it.

“Mommy, I have a story. Once upon time, there was a kitty cat and it got up up stuck on the roof. And the helicopter came and got the kitty cat and put it down. And then everybody was happy. The End.” 

“Wow, Noah, that was such a good story! It had a beginning, a middle, and an end. It also had a conflict and a resolution.” 

“Yes, Mommy, it did.” 

~August 2012

I love hearing your stories, your thoughts, and your opinions. I trust your judgement and often include you on family decisions. I want you to know that I value you, always.

It has been this year that I have seen you cross over from baby to boy, and this year that has challenged me the most as a parent. (So far.)

But it has been this year, my sweet boy, that I have delighted in your growth. As you continue to grow and branch out away from me, I want you to always know that I will never be too far away, standing in awe of wonderful YOU.

I love you forever and always, my sweet three-year-old baby boy.

Love,

Mommy

(meant to be published on your 3rd birthday, September 1st, 2012)

My sweet 3 year old boy

The First Birthday

As a countdown to my son’s third birthday party, I thought I would share the first two.

The first birthday was the hardest one for me. I was an emotional wreck with the realization that my son was turning one, and had an incredibly difficult time with the one year anniversary of my difficult birth experience.

To add to my emotional anxiety, we had also just moved to Richmond, VA when my son was 9 months old. As soon as I had unpacked boxes I was throwing a huge birthday party.

All of our family flew up from GA to celebrate the only grandchild on both sides’ first birthday. It was a huge milestone. My mom, brother, sister, and all of their significant others as well as my husband’s parents, two brothers, sister-in-law and grandmother were there. We piled 15 people into our newly bought house and admired our sweet little boy.

The grand celebration was a four-day affair of family visiting, but the actual celebration was taking place on the Saturday after he turned one. This turned out to be a very good thing since I spent most of the day of his actual birthday crying.

We enjoyed the company of family and suffered minimal drama, though there always seems to be some at large family gatherings.

And then on the morning of the day of his party, my little boy started having trouble breathing. My husband and I weren’t terribly worried, but as the day progressed and his condition didn’t, we decided to head to the emergency room.

While we endured our first emergency room visit with our little boy, a scary experience that resulted in a diagnosis of croup, a steroid shot, and a nebulizer treatment, our family used their nervous energy to decorate the house for the party. My father-in-law even mowed the lawn. It was incredibly sweet, and when we got home from the hospital we had a party celebrating the first year of our little boy’s life.

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.)

Just Like My Flowers

The light of the moon made its way into the bedroom as the toddler and I snuggled under the covers. Another day had faded away and my little boy and I cuddled up close as we settled into bed.

“Mommy?”

“Yes sweet boy.”

“Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

“My flowers are growing!”

“Your flowers are growing?”

“Yes! They are growing bigger and bigger!”

“Yes, they are growing bigger and bigger.”

“Am I growing bigger too?”

“Yes, you are growing bigger, too.”

“And stronger?”

“Yes, everyday you are growing bigger and bigger and stronger and stronger.”

“Uh-huh Mommy. Just like my flowers?”

“Just like your flowers.”

I could see him pondering. Satisfied, he cuddled up next to me and arranged himself to fit into the curve of my side.

I held him close and we both closed our eyes. I drifted to sleep listening to the beautiful sound of a toddler and his flowers growing in silence.

Building Blocks

The age of two is so complex. This time of in between. Caught between the world of a baby and a big boy, between a world of needing help and doing it “all by myself.”  Growing, reaching, climbing, achieving. You can do this. You are doing this. Reaching higher and accomplishing more with every breath. I stand in awe of your growth, and watch as you climb into this role of a person you are. I love you, I cherish you, and I capture these brief moments in time when you are still in between.

I am so proud of you, my sweet in between boy.

Linking up today with the lovely Alison of Mama Wants This and Galit of These Little Waves for Memories Captured. What memories have you captured lately?

Pending

Do you ever feel like your life is pending?

Sometimes I find myself at that place. That place of wondering, of stalling, of waiting. Waiting for the unknown.

I have been at these places before. My life was pending at the end of my pregnancy, when I was just waiting for a delivery, but had no control over how it would unfold.

My life was pending during the match process for my husband’s residency, where we could have been placed anywhere in the country, and we just had to wait until Match Day and a piece of paper to find out how we would spend the next four years of our lives.

Sometimes I feel like some of my relationships are pending; not really that bad and not really that good, just pending, waiting to see what will happen in the future.

The hot topic issue of having another child is pending in our house, since the hubs and I disagree on this very sensitive subject.

Most recently, I have been handling pending insurance claims and financial bits of life, and even though that is extremely insignificant in the grand scheme of things, I find the stress of constantly dealing with it seeping into my contentedness.

Sometimes, I even apply that word to myself. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I was a nanny and a teacher and now I am a stay at home Mommy. But that too, will come to an end when he starts school in a few years, and I’m not sure what direction my life will go in then.

So I find myself here today feeling like I’m on hold, just waiting for the next thing to happen. My life is not bad, or overly exhilarating, it is just there….

Pending.

A Small Milestone

My two-and-a-half year old this morning before school. Happy half birthday sweet boy.

My little boy is 30 months old today. Officially two-and-a-half. I do not know why, but this feels like a milestone. Just another solid step towards him growing up. Just another reminder of how he’s leaving the baby world and entering the child world.

Maybe it’s a milestone because it’s the first “half birthday.” Whenever I was asked his age, for the longest time, I would respond in terms of months. I never referred to him as “one and a half,” I always said 18 months. I used months right up until that 24th one, when I reluctantly switched my answer to “He’s two.”

And for the past six months he has been two. And he’s been throwing tantrums and potty training and learning and growing and he’s been two. But now he is two-and-a-half. And he’s doing better about the tantrums (most days) and he is already done potty training. And he’s still learning and growing but he’s so SMART and observant now. And he’s only two-and-a-half.

Maybe it’s a milestone because I still remember the words of advice from a mom on a playdate we had when he was just a baby; “Make sure to get pictures when he’s two-and-a-half. It will be the last time you will get a baby picture. By the time they are three, they have already turned into little boys.” We have a photography session scheduled for April.

Maybe it’s a milestone because every step in his life is also a step in mine. Now, not only is he two-and-a-half, but I am the mother of a two-and-half year old. I can see this doesn’t bode well for my emotional sanity as he continues to grow up.

Maybe it’s a milestone simply because it is a milestone. Not the most significant one, but one all the same. And milestones are important to notice. Even the small ones.

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.

Turning Yellow

I see you as the leaves on my tree. New, fresh, tender. You are a blossom, so young and fragile. I tend to you, I cherish you, I immerse myself in your nourishment so that you may thrive.

I see you turn green and strong and learn life with an unstoppable momentum towards greatness. I hold onto you and savor in the moments when I am still an important part of your world.

I see you turning yellow. You are growing up and changing right before my eyes. You are turning into a person of your own. You are getting ready to find a path without me.

I see you turn red. You are ready to fly on your own and to flourish out in the world I have long ago stopped navigating and instead have watched you change into these beautiful colors.

One day, you will gently drop from my branch, and float away into a gentle breeze. I hope that it takes you to amazing places and allows to you see breathtaking sights. I hope you have moments you treasure and meet people who treasure you. I hope your journey on this gentle breeze brings you adventure, and love, and happiness. And I hope one day this gentle breeze might again blow you my way.

But right now, I will stand here, sturdy on my trunk, and cherish these small beautiful moments that allow me to soak in your presence and bask in your glow. Because I know, that all too soon, you will be turning yellow.