So close he can taste it.
For the last 7 or so years we haven’t been home much to spend Thanksgiving with family because of work schedules and whatnot. This year once again we were in Columbus, but I feel more confident about the meal for my small family more than ever before. I love that my new tradition is to make coffee and stuffing in the morning, then run, them lay around with the kids before finishing the meal. It’s a quiet, laid back, low pressure day with no traffic or uncomfortable conversations- unless you count the ones we have about George and Simon fighting over legos and make believe games.
Oh Simon, you are 8. How is that possible? 8?! You were just a baby, I swear it. You just had stinky milk cheese stuck in the fat rolls of your neck. It feels like yesterday, and yet- a million years ago. You are still the sweetest boy I’ve ever met. Of course I am biased, but others often tell me how kind you are, how good you are, how sweet you are. But they don’t need to tell me, because I know.
Our weekday mornings together are lovely but short. Your dad and I are up at 5am most mornings. Part of that is due to George climbing into our bed and kicking us in our faces, but also we start the day early. I’ll go exercise to get it out of the way before you wake up, and Dad goes into work early. Dad and George leave the house by 6:45am and I hop in the shower while you still sleep. At about 7am your Batman alarm will go off and I’ll hear you grumble and groan about not wanting to get up or go to school or do ANYthing, but that’s usually the grumpiest part of your day, because you love your sleep, as you always have, forever.
But you dress yourself now, as most 8 year olds do. Then you go downstairs and watch your favorite show, Lab Rats, while I get myself ready for the day. Some mornings you’ll sit with me and pack your lunch and listen to a Story Pirates podcast. Sometimes you’ll talk to me about your day. I prefer it when you don’t watch a show, but since George isn’t around, it’s really the only time you don’t have to choose a show HE wants. So I know that’s important time for you, too.
You have a phone/watch combo, that allows me to reach you in the mornings we both need to leave at the same time. You “check in” with me and send messages from time to time, asking when I will pick you up after school or just to say “I love you.”
We celebrated your birthday with your Aunt Kim and family. We all went to Pittsburgh to Kennywood and you stayed with them a few days, and we just treated you over and over to fun. We had such a good time. You did, too. You had a chocolate chip cookie cake and pizza for dinner.
- This year we all have been camping (in cabins) several times, but you and Dad slept all night in a tent and you loved it.
- This year you got your first “phone/watch/activity tracker” that gives you some freedoms you didn’t have before.
- This year you had your first sleepover party at a friend’s house without us. You stayed at Luca’s for his birthday and you got a flashlight and a pair of pajama pants as a party favor. You fell asleep by 10:30 and woke at 8, so I was told.
- You lost your first tooth this year, and ONLY tooth so far. It’s a bottom front one, and the adult tooth is almost all the way through. You only have 1 other loose tooth now, and most kids in your grade already have adult teeth completely in. Your smile is still the prettiest, in my mind. But that other bottom tooth is so wiggly and gross! You like to wiggle it with your tongue to make me shriek and get the shivers.
- You have started packing your own lunch.
- You have started taking piano lessons, and you’re quite good at recognizing music, already. I’ve broken the news to you “we’re not quitting piano, buddy” about 100 times even though you complain EVERY time your alarm goes off to practice. But I am so proud of all you’ve learned so far, and I like those ten minutes when we sit together and I help you learn. So so proud.
- You’ve decided “Baseball is my sport” and that is just fine with us.
- You’ve started walking to school on your own, without me. You still hold my hand when we walk together, though. And on the first day of 3rd grade- while other kids’ parents were left in the dust on the front sidewalk of RLS School, you clasped my hand tight and told your friend walking in with you, “My mom always walks me to my classroom on the first day.”
- We’ve started watching PG-13 movies together (Spiderman Homecoming and Adventures in Babysitting!) and tell each other firmly “now THAT was inappropriate” during the bad words/dirty parts and laugh.
There are so many other things I should remember that I’m sure I’ve missed. I wish I could write down or bottle up every sweet moment with you, but there are so many that I feel so lucky to swim in your goodness every moment I can.
There are parts of childhood that are slipping away from us though. Your brother has outgrown most of your toddler clothes. They’re leaving our house by the bagful. There are only a few more pairs of your old shoes that are durable enough to pass on to George. And once they’re gone, they’re just gone. We have an umbrella stroller still hanging on a hook in the back mudroom, the one that strolled your little body everywhere from Disneyland, California to Hilton Head, South Carolina. It is one of the last baby things of yours’ that we still own.
It is terribly sad and I do mourn baby-you….but the Big Kid You is so much better than I could have imagined. You make me laugh so hard with some of the things you say. You are so thoughtful. Today you told me that you and Nolan (your best friend ) “are gonna make millions” on this magic trick you’ve learned. You’re going to charge people $.10 per trick and wait for all the money to roll in. I asked what you would do with the money and you said “buy a mansion” and when I reminded you that with Big Money comes Big Responsibility to help others, you said “Oh I know. I don’t want to be like Mr. Scrooge. Or Trump.” I JUST LOVE YOU SO MUCH, KID.
You know, you’re 8 and getting you to take a shower is sort of a pain and you grumble a lot more than you did when you were 6. But I’ll take those eye-rolls and grumbles along with the hand-holding and signed “I love you’s” from the neighbor’s front porch. Because I do know that the latter will eventually go away and be replaced with the eyerolls and the OMG-MOM’s etc.
I’m trying my best to wade through the magna-tiles and Playmobil toys on my rug still at 9:30pm and NOT MESS UP THE TOWER just because the day is done. After all, it TOOK A LONG TIME TO BUILD and you might not get it back just the same way again. I will continue to cuss to myself each time I step on or sweep up a Lego person. I will continue to book tickets to plays and take you on root beer float and ice cream dates for no reason because I have thought to myself lately (more often than ever)— what on earth will I do when he’s gone?
That last part sounds dire, but I find that sometimes it’s easier to process things if I take a “worst-case-scenario approach” to preparedness. And the truth is, someday sooner than I could ever guess, you will be grown and you won’t reach for my hand, and there will be no more Legos, and instead of hearing your feet patter to the bathroom WELL past bedtime, I will be looking at my phone wondering if you’ll remember to call me.
You are such a special boy to me. But more than that, you are meant to be a special person to the world. We’ve been struggling with some people at school who haven’t been very kind. And I told you to keep killing them with kindness because…it is hard to be mean to someone who is being nice in return. And I would never tell you this, but knowing someone hurt your feelings made me want to pop this said kid right in the nose, but instead I did the right thing and told you the same thing my mom told me.
Be kind, be kind, be kind.
I hope that’s the right things to do. Because I’ve also told you recently, “This is the first time I’ve ever been a mom. I hope I’m doing OK.”
I love you so much. It is my life’s work to make sure that you know it.
All my heart,
This can’t be.
But it is! I totally skipped George’s 3rd birthday. He’s now three and a half. HOLY CRAP I FEEL TERRIBLE. I actually logged into the blog to start reading Simon letters, because his birthday falls around that sleepy part of August right before school starts and we get wrapped up in all of the Back to School Nonsense and I realized.
I FORGOT GEORGE’S BIRTHDAY LETTER.
I’ll try to catch you up on all things George, but buckle up buttercup, because a LOT has changed.
You are 3. You seem more like 4 or 5. You are constantly trying to keep up with big kids, whether it is the neighbors across the street or your brother, or just us as usual. This past weekend we were camping at Buck Creek State Park and we went on a hike. I think we yelled “Keep Up, George!” about 50 times during that walk. We are always yelling at you to keep up. At one point you had sat down in the middle of the gravel path when we were trying to get somewhere and your dad started to get frustrated, thinking you were about to throw a fit. But I could tell you were just looking for special rocks. I came over and helped you pick two good ones. I need to remember you are only three. But not for much longer, as you are now nearly four! Time flies, oh it does.
You still have the cutest way of saying things. You sort of talk like you’re for Boston or something. You say Muddah and Fadduh and Bruddah and you say “cah” for Car and it’s adorable. You LOVE to make people laugh, and you think the only way to do that is through potty talk and jokes. I feel like you hit this stage a little harder and sooner than Simon did. Obviously Simon thinks your potty talk is funny, so he is no help in getting you to stop it. We roll our eyes. We do that alot.
You still don’t eat very much in the way of vegetables or fruits, though I was told you ate watermelon the other day which surprised me. You prefer cheese and hotdogs, yogurt and noodles, and chicken nuggets. You like your food processed and having barely any taste at all. You do like ketchup, and I have been told that some circles view that as vegetable matter, so I guess I should count it too. You eat mini muffins almost every day for breakfast. You get into the fridge and pantry cupboard to get yourself snacks and drinks all the time. I wish your older brother would take such initiative. He still waits for us to serve him. In the meantime our 3 year old is on the kitchen floor pouring himself an apple juice.
Every night we lay with you in your bed until you fall asleep and 9 out of 10 nights you end up in our bed. Usually this happens between 4 and 5:30am. Sometimes you tell me you are thirsty and I have to get up and go back down to your room to get your cup of water. Sometimes you crawl into our bed and grab my face and whisper “I just missed you, mommy” and then you snuggle in close.
You are my little shadow, and I love it but also it can get overwhelming when you won’t accept anyone else’s help. You will shriek and yell when something doesn’t go your way. Though you are quick to anger over somethings, you are a surprisingly good sharer and friend with kids on the playground and in social situations. There are some things that I worry about with Simon that I just don’t worry about with you. And vice versa. You are your own person. You have a spark in you that I recognize and love- you are so very special to me.
And I say “YES YOU WILL ALWAYS BE MY BABY” and end in a ticklefest. You love to say and do ridiculous things that will get a reaction from someone to tickle or chase you. You are so fun. You are so lovely, you are the perfect final piece to our family. You make me think about things in ways I haven’t before. I am not sure how to explain that, but I’ll workon coming up with a way.
For your birthday party, which was 8 months ago, we had a PJ mask themed small party at the library. We had cupcakes and decorations and balloons. You liked it but also completely melted down when we started to sing happy birthday. We caught that on video, it was a good one. Your birthday being near christmas is a tough one for me to remember everything that I need to do. I will work on that more for this year, I promise.
You are a constant celebration to me. You exclaim “Mom! You’re Back!” and “Mom! You’re home!” in a way that no one has before. You are always excited to see me, always always. When that stops, I know I will be sad. You and Simon fight over which of my hands you want to hold. It feels so good to be loved so much, but only because I know it is fleeting and soon Simon won’t want me to hold his hand. Soon you won’t either. And I won’t know which time is the last time you’ll grab it in public, but eventually that time will come.
I love you and your curls. I love you and your ears. I love you and your vampire teeth. I love your cackling laugh and silly jokes. I love that on our drive you were clapping along to the beat of a song you’d never heard before- perfectly. You are so special to me. I’m sorry I didn’t write you this letter sooner, but please know I love you with all of my big old heart.
I have very limited time for things like this anymore, and it’s a shame really because there are so many funny and sweet things to remember about my amazing life. My boys. They do and say things so adorable so often that another thing happens before I could write the first one down. These moments trickle through my sieve-like brain these days and only hours have to pass before I forget them entirely. I try to soak up the time spent with both of my boys before bedtime, staring at their eyelashes longingly while Simon tells me how much he hates school and waking up in the morning. Or I’ll tussle his George’s curls while he yells “YOU SKIPPED A PAGE!” as I’m telling him a story in the dark, not reading a book. He insists that I’m not telling him the parts of the story he wants to hear. But after all, I am not a mind reader.
But I am a lot of other things.
These days I am a listener. I am a reader of news and information. I am a phone caller. I am a marcher for rights. I am an advocate for children whose caregivers are not privileged enough to advocate for their own kids. I am a consultant. I am a wife. I am a friend. I am a librarian. I am a mom. I am a sister. I am a daughter. I am the cause of the dent in the right hand corner of our worn out couch. I am a bed-maker of three beds. Every morning. I am a cook. I am a planner. I am a PTO volunteer. I am a Friends of the Library member. I am an event coordinator. I am an advocate against gun violence and for common sense gun reform. I am an Ohioan. I AM a patriot. I am an Ohio State fan.I am a lifelong student and learner. I am a Grandview community member and tax payer. I am a reluctant runner. I am a recovering reader. I am a boo-boo kisser and allergy medicine distributor. I am a coordinator and organizer. I am a cheerleader. I am a supporter. I am a connector. I am a walker. I am a thinker. I am a problem solver.
I am also tired.
I am exhausted. I am fired up, ready to go. I am sleep-walking at 5am to the gym. I am pushed out of my bed at 4am most mornings by a 3 year old who must share my pillow or feel me near him between the hours of midnight at 4am. I am buzzing with a feeling of anxiety masked as excitement or busyness.
I am easily tipped over into a rage spiral brought on by even the smallest injustices because life is just
not fair not fair not fair not fair not fair not fair…for most people
And life has been too fair, too generous, too everything for ME.
I am not enraged because MY rights or MY life is at stake in the political narcissistic consumerism throw-away culture/climate of this country. My skin is on fire right now because of people who are NOT as lucky as I am to be white, middle class, educated and healthy.. This is not about me. No no no.
And my mom said to me, “the world will always be unjust”
And that’s true, it’s true and I think about it all the time. But I do not want to exist in a world where I am complicit in the systemic oppression of others.
So some weeks I don’t go to the rallies or the meetings. Some days I cannot read it all or take it all in or listen to the things I know I should. Last week I skipped three important meetings that I had on every calendar I keep, on my phone, my computer and wall…
I just couldn’t do it. I need to stare into the void and recollect my thoughts and find myself after one morning I made it to work and texted my husband “Something is wrong with me. I don’t feel right.”
He knew. He can see the stress rash I’m constantly itching and he knows that I’m tired when I stumble to get my shoes in the morning and when I crawl into bed at night well before him. He knows something is not right.
But he knows I can not stop caring and working. He hugs me and gives me the look because he knows. We try to laugh together about things but we are both just so fucking sad and fed up at the greed in this world. We will be fine, we say. We know. It’s not US who will come out of this in trouble. It’s our kids. It’s the people we see every day already struggling. We’ll make it out ok.
In the meantime I guess this is my new normal for the next four years? I’ll spend my time stomping and yelling and listening and learning and trying and pedaling as fast as I can so that somebody anybody will listen and learn or change or for chrissakes CARE about anyone but themselves. <shrug>
I just hope that eventually it all matters, all of this work and learning and awareness…because all of it matters so much to me.
I owe my baby boy a Birthday Letter.
I will get to it eventually– but for now, that felt good.
OH, I forgot one.
I used to be a writer, too.
Hi. You are now 7. As always, the age you are now is my favorite age, but I think that is because you’re one of my two favorite kids. But you are certainly my most favorite 7 year old I’ve ever met so far.
You are still the same remarkable boy you’ve always been. You are so special to everyone you encounter. You are kind and fun, and lately funny, too. You like to tell jokes, you like to play LEGO and Playmobil still. You are a tremendous big brother to dear annoying 2 year old George. George just adores you as well.
You are in second grade now, and your teacher seems sweet and kind. You seem to like her a lot, though we do have mornings (like this morning) when you are frustrated that you have to go to school and read and write all day, when you would rather stay home and play. I get it, dude. I do. I wish we all could do that, too.
You have grown in so many ways this last year- you are tall, almost to my shoulder in height. You are skinny, and you are a good eater. You like biscuits and honey, and I try to make them a lot so you can load up on calories and get something to stick to those bones. You are still very snuggly and cuddly though. You love to watch movies on the couch with me, especially when it’s just you and me. We’ve watched E.T., The Princess Bride, Harry and the Hendersons, and the Harry Potter movies (1-3) so far. With the exception of HP, these are all movies I enjoyed as a kid, and I love sharing them with you. I also love that you are especially attuned to picking up on the bad words people in movies (and sometimes in real life) say out loud. You have spelled “the S word” to your dad, and are well aware of it’s intended usage. We talk about rude words that adults sometimes say. It prompted a conversation I had with your dad, when I asked him if he remembers the first time he ever cussed out loud. I remember when I did. I said “shit” during a dodgeball game in gym class in 4th grade. I uttered it under my breath and expected lightning to strike me down right there on the gym floor. It did not. Your dad called someone in Kindergarten an a$$hole. (You can ask him what that word means if you don’t know already…but I’m sure you do.) Kindergarten!? So I’ll leave the judgement up to you, but I imagine the first cuss word you say out loud will be the same as the one I said, but maybe a few years early. Ha!
My favorite time of day is still when we walk to school in the morning together. Though most mornings you run ahead with your friend Jake and leave me in the dust. You still sign “I love you” to me usually. But you didn’t this morning. You were sad that it was Monday. We had such a good weekend together, as a family. We had the Ox Roast with fun rides and games. Last weekend we went to the Ohio State Football game together and had a blast doing that. We are looking forward to another trip to New York City in October to see your Great Aunt Bonnie. We are going to see the show The Lion King.
Your dad and I are constantly in awe of what a great kid you are. The only thing I would change about you is I wish you saw yourself the way we see you. We are so incredibly proud of the smart, hard working and kind person you are. You are an amazing example to your brother, who I believe will need a good leader like you to pave the way for him. And no one is sweeter and more willing to give hugs and hold hands, than you. I will cry when we don’t hold hands anymore, and when you don’t tell me how good I smell, or nuzzle into my belly when you hug me. But your height and demeanor and all of the signs that are pointing toward pre-adolescence are there right beneath the surface. And I know that one by one those things will all but disappear, and I’ll be left looking at videos and pictures of you at age 7, just like I sit and look at pictures and videos of you at age 3, now.
People say “the days are long but the years are short” when you have kids. And it is a cliche saying that is absolutely true. But I am so in love with you that even the long days don’t seem long enough. You’re growing too fast. We all have too much to do.
I hope that someday you read this and can somehow feel the warmth and love that I have for you. It’s so hard to properly convey it here in a written message. Becoming your mom 7 years ago was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. Loving you is the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Thank you for being the person you are and thank you in advance for forgiving me for every misstep I make in parenting you or being the support person you need me to be. I love your skinny little guts and can’t wait to see what this year holds.
All of my heart,