You are two.
You are wild with long hair that sweeps across your forehead and curls up along the nape of your neck and around your ears, signaling most people on the street to think you’re a girl.
“She’s so cute,” they comment.
I don’t mind. It’s sort of fun to pretend for a few seconds I have a daughter. But you are all boy.
You like to say “hit” and “kick” and you want to “hit” and “kick” bugs and your brothers and even the new stuffed baby you like to carry around by the neck in a chokehold.
You are two and this past year went by faster than I would have liked it to, just like it did last year and the year before, as I’m always wishing to slow down time with you and your brothers, to breathe in your babyhood just a little bit longer. Weren’t we just at your first birthday party hanging big white moon lanterns on tree branches and eating the man in the moon’s face off a vanilla cake?
You are such a joy. Such a stubborn little joy as your forceful personality blooms. You are still easy going and independent but you can also be feisty and need to get your way these days. As the baby, I’m sure you’ve acquired this skill so you’ll be heard, with two big, loud brothers trying to constantly overshadow you. You have learned to stand strong, to not give in, to scream louder when you need us all to listen. To pinch harder, to throw things with a vengeance across the room, screech so the neighbors three doors down can hear you. You also hit with a passion that gets your big brothers to back off when wrestling. Yep, we’re seeing the start of the terrible twos.
Your language is clearer now. We can understand all your wants and desires. I’m a little sad about your language becoming more accurate, in ways. It was so adorable and charming when you used to say “Thank um,” instead of “Thank you,” each time we handed you the object of your affection. If we handed you a bite of food, you quickly said “Thank um!” It was both sweet and hilarious.
Now you say “Thank you,” and it’s a reminder that you’re growing up, commanding your developmental stages with accuracy and precision. And it sort of makes me yearn for those days when you were a clumsy little bumbling infant, still figuring it all out. A helpless little fleshy bundle all wide eyed and searching for the answers. Today you don’t need help with much. In fact, your favorite phrase is: “No! I do it!” And you sure do little one. You sure do.
I feel like you’re still a baby but I don’t call you “the baby” anymore like I used to. I call you by your name. Baby doesn’t sound right, because you don’t look so much like a baby anymore. Your body has shot up this summer with a growth spurt that has you almost passing for your middle brother’s twin. People on the street have even asked if that was the case. A few times, out of the corner of my eye while seeing you whiz by, I’ve had to look twice, thinking I saw your brother when it was you.
You are sweet and helpful, always wanting to lend a hand with anything. “Here, mama” you say, trying to hand me clean dishes from the dishwasher when I’m emptying it. Or handing me half-chomped food off your plate. “Here, mama,” you offer.
Something about knowing you’re most likely the last baby makes my heart ache when I really sit and think about it. I watch you and know there are so many “last moments” I won’t experience again and even though I feel I have savored them as much as I possibly could, to know they’ll never happen again is something I’ve been struggling with lately. It all feels so final. You’re not even in “diapers” anymore. You’re in “training pants” now and although that’s really good news, meaning we’re that much closer to potty training, I can’t help but think that the last time I stretched those sticky tabs across your waist to fasten a diaper, I wasn’t even aware that it was the last time. The last time for so many seemingly incidental moments like changing a diaper, that really aren’t incidental at all. They are the end of mini eras I wish I could cling to. Or relive. But life moves forward not backward and you are two years old. You are two years old and you are starting to want to use the potty. And you don’t want to wear diapers anymore. And that’s a wonderful thing.
We’re probably still nursing for this reason too. You don’t want to leave that stage completely yet and I’m sure I don’t either. Maybe I’m afraid you’ll stop running to me, wanting to snuggle up in bed, drifting off to sleep, content after nursing. It’s comforting to you and familiar to us both. A predictable ritual that relaxes us both and lulls us into quietness. But sometimes it’s also inconvenient for me and on certain days, disruptive and a little intrusive and when you’re extra forceful and demanding when I really don’t feel like “night night” (as you call it), it can almost be a burden. And I get frustrated and think about ending our nursing. “At two,” I used to say, “we’ll stop at two.” And here we are, you are two now and I am having a hard time completely weaning you. Even when on many occasions I’m more than ready to stop. “I’m done,” I’ll say in frustration, even when I know you aren’t. And so the delicate dance continues.
The plan was never for me to be home with you and your brothers for an extended period of time. A temporary hiatus from my career to be able to focus full-time on parenting you and your brothers was what was somewhat planned and unplanned at the same time. As you get older and more independent, I’m aware this ride is slowly coming to an end. That my days at home with you are numbered. That soon you’ll be in school and I’ll need to go back to “work,” though this has been some of the hardest most rewarding work I’ve ever done. Because even when the days are long, when I am up against a battle of the wills and I’m tired of fighting, when I just want to crash into a soft bed, but there is still an endless list of things that need to get done for the night, I am thankful. So thankful that I have been able to be home with you and your brothers while I can, going on adventures on Monday afternoons, exploring new places and having the time to look for dragonflies with you in the front yard, in the heat of the summer. It’s a gift that on some days doesn’t always feel like one when I’m tired, or the day has been challenging or even mundane and bedtime can’t come quickly enough. It’s a gift I’ll reflect on when I look back one day.
The type of gift you often appreciate more, years after it was given.
You are two. And I feel grateful. I have spent the past 730 days with you, the past two years, from slippery hours-old newborn placed on my chest in the dark hours of the early morning, to the wild, preferring to be naked, long haired boy you are today. It both sped by and stretched out at the same time. It was and is a ride I will never forget.
Happy Second Birthday, Moon. I am so happy you chose me to be your mama.