To N and J, on the eve of your fifth birthday.
My sweet babies. Tomorrow you will be five years old. I’m seriously not sure how this is happening. I can still remember driving to the hospital the day of your birth. We were sure they were going to send us back home, since it was a full week and a half before the scheduled c-section. But I felt funny; different, and off we went.
That day, my whole world shifted. I had always known I wanted to be a mother. From the time your Uncle D was born when I was almost 7 years old I knew. But the day you finally took your first breaths in this world it was like I had just taken my first breath.
This past year has been amazing and challenging with you both, for many different reasons. You’re learning to assert your independence in new ways – negotiating and finding ways to play on your strengths (and sometimes my weaknesses) to get what you want. Luckily, most of the time we still outsmart you and can see through what you might be doing to your real intentions (like stalling bedtime to tell me you just want to say you love me – well played my loves, well played.)
The sheer level of sass emerging from you, “General Sassypants,” this year (you were promoted from Captain shortly after your 4th birthday) has really thrown me for a loop. Sometimes I have to stop myself from responding with a matching level of sass (or laughing) because you are so sassy beyond your years. But then, I’ll find myself under the weather or fighting a migraine and you turn into “Little Momma J,” bringing me sodas or kissing my forehead and brushing my hair off my face with such sensitivity and love it blows me away.
Recently, the talk of school starting and moving has thrown you outside of your comfort zone in a big way, and I’ve learned just how much like me you are. Even being away at your grandparents’ house for a few days was a lot for you, and you came home talking about how great it was to be back in our own house. I can tell already how hard going to school is going to be for you, and I can only hope you adjust quickly.
You might be a sassy smart little thing, but you are your mommy’s kindred spirit in so many ways. And you are in tune with me in ways I don’t even realize until you say something that knocks me sideways. You’re amazing, and adorable, and beautiful, and crazy and funny and loving. You make me laugh and you can make me cry and I love you bigger than the sky. I promise to do everything I can to nurture that bright amazing spirit you have.
The yin to J’s yang, my sweet boy N. Your sweet nature continues to grow and grow and I long to find ways to continue to encourage your sensitive nature. You have amazed us this year with your capacity for reading and math, and you’d think that we drill you daily with as much as you can do. You’re reading at a 3rd grade level, doing subtraction in your head, and counting by 2s and 3s and 5s. I worry so much about you starting school, not because I don’t think you will do well, but because I want so badly for you to continue to be challenged. I pray your kindergarten teacher does more with you than make you the “Teacher’s helper.” Of course, reading at age 4 means your mommies can’t fool you anymore by telling you the restaurant doesn’t have root beer or mac and cheese. You’ll simply point and say, “yes they do, it says right here – ‘ROOT BEER’.”
Sometimes I wonder just where you came from, little man. You’re smart and funny and sweet and athletic and I think back to that little angry baby on the ventilator. Your mommies were so scared and so in love with you and all I wanted was for you to be home in my arms with your sister. I love the way you come running when I ask for a hug without even a pause. I love the way you will wrap your arms around me and pat my back and give me a kiss smack on the lips. The way your eyes light up when we walk into a restaurant that has sports playing on the tv makes me laugh, because I know sometime in the future you will have a wife or a husband who asks you, “PLEASE, just this once, can we watch The Bachelor Season 42 instead of Golf’s Greatest Putts?”
My beautiful babies, the differences between you can be summed up by your reactions to the same roller coaster ride experience: J, you bounded off the ride with a “that was awesome let’s go again!” while N cried out “that was TOTALLY NOT FUN!” But none of that matters when I creep up the stairs while you are playing together in the playroom and I hear one of you say “I love you” to the other. For 5 years you’ve been each other’s best friends, and I can only hope you will always be this close.
On the eve of your fifth birthday, I cry for the babies you are no longer, because you are closer now to thinking I don’t understand you than you are to thinking I hung the moon. But guess what? I’m always going to think you hung the moon and sun and no matter how old you are that will never change.
On the eve of your fifth birthday, I rejoice in the people you are becoming, and I hope for the wisdom to be able to nurture you in ways that encourage who you are and not who I or anyone else wants you to be. Because all I want you to be is your best, your most authentic you.
On the eve of your fifth birthday, I will climb the stairs and open your doors while you sleep, lean in and kiss your cheeks and look at you with the same awe and joy that I did five years ago. I will whisper “I love you” and I will pause for a second before I close your doors just to memorize the moment. Tomorrow you go from babies to big kids. And even though you already tell me you aren’t babies anymore, you’ll always be my babies. Five years ago I took what felt like my first breath when you took yours, and my life has never been the same. I love you, to the moon and stars and sun and back.