You were warm and cuddly, groggy and perfect when I lifted you out of the crib yesterday morning. I held you tight, whispered happy birthday as you nuzzled into my shoulder. Then it hit me: Just like that, you are a year old. You are no longer a baby.
Cue all of the emotions. Sadness, mixed with elation, mixed with 200,000 years of evolution screaming, “HAVE MORE BABIES. NOW.”
In these moments, I simply wait for clarity to arrive. Last weekend, it came after a solo trip to Target with you and Charlie – a challenge all teenagers should be required to face as part of sex ed. The birth rate would drop dramatically.
(Funny story: I mentioned this experience to another mom, who compared taking two kids to Target to sky-diving. Target, she said, was more extreme.)
I can’t get enough of you lately. It’s as if my brain finally got used to you being in our family, and I’m overcome with gratitude. When I think about you, I feel lighter, like there’s a gentle breeze in the room.
Perhaps it’s because I’m not as sleep deprived these days. A week after last month’s post, I went on a business trip and – praise be! – you began sleeping through the night again. I was thrilled for Dad, who solo-parented for three days. I couldn’t imagine him handling you, Charlie, his job, the cats, the house, etc., all on little-to-no sleep.
I discovered something truly amazing when I returned home: your smell! You see, I’ve been mourning the loss of your baby smell – that sweet, almost-toxic scent that drives all mothers batty. Lately, you hadn’t smelled like anything. But I also hadn’t been away from you that long.
I came home late. You were already sleeping, so snuck into your room for a kiss and –BAM! – this wonderful, deep, heavy scent just slammed me. I couldn’t even move. I got weepy. I leaned over your crib and gulped in the air around you. How did I not realize this smell existed, that it was so strong?
When you woke the next morning, I discovered you knew the second half of “uh oh.” A few days later, you began saying “hi” (mostly sounding like “eye”) and waving, which you now do non-stop to trees, our furniture, breakfast, etc. There are few sounds sweeter in the universe.
We’ve entered the Thwarting Phase of your development; you want to touch everything except the stuff you’re supposed to have. Charlie isn’t a fan.
You’ve begun tearing toilet paper off the roll and trying to eat it. You love to give us objects, then take them back.
This month you really embraced laughter. To-your-toes chortles and giggles. Especially when we tickle you.
When you see birds, you squeal loudly, your eyes get big, and you say “ohhhhhhhhhh.” I’ve never been a bird person, but I’d buy a whole menagerie for you.
Your “birthday party” is tomorrow. I jokingly put that in quotes because it really can’t compare to the resources that went into Charlie’s first birthday. It’s going to be small, intimate, and perfect for our family, just as Charlie’s was perfect then.
Perhaps this is more of that second-child syndrome, but you are special in such a profound way; it’s something I want to keep close.
Happy birthday, my sweet boy. No matter how many mornings I whisper those words to you, no matter how old you get, I know you will always be my baby.