Dear little man

I know it’s probably time that I stop calling you that.  You’re growing up.  Just yesterday you were a wailing infant, waking up every few hours and wanting me to hold you.  I don’t miss those days, but I do have a bittersweet kind of nostalgia about you: the last baby.

Long before you were even born, people would joke with me about how the first child has tons of picture, the middle has some, and the last has none.  Clearly, that’s not the case here.  Although if you keep doing that cheesy grin and posing we won’t have any truly authentic pictures of you!

Those people were wrong.  You are special.  You are unique.  You’re like your brother with your quick wit and your sharp mind, but you are uniquely yourself.  You are like your sister with your sensitivity to moods, but you are not as emotional.  Not even your brother, the independent child, is as fiercely independent as you are.  I’m not always in the mood to appreciate that, especially like today when you flung my hand away and refused to stay with me in the store.  But you are the most like me in that respect, and I recognize it.

 

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As I sat there tonight cuddling the slightly damp, towel-hidden you after your bath, I realized something profound.  I am your safe place: I am what allows you to venture out, feeling safe even when you’re halfway across the mall and going for the door.  It’s moments like these that ground you.  Normally you want nothing to do with me.  Most of the time you’re busy with important things to do, toys to play with, or playgrounds to conquer.  Who needs a mommy then?

It’s the quiet times that you need me.  The “ouch” moments when you bump your toe, or wake up grumpy from a nap.  Then I am safety.  I am comfort.  I am mommy.

Then, sometimes, I am the rock that drags you around the kitchen as I try to fix dinner with you clinging to my leg.  Hopefully we’ll outgrow those moments too.

 

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I know that you struggle with anxiety.  Ever since you were old enough to realize that I put you down, you protested.  You fought, kicking and screaming if I tried to leave you with anyone else.  Even now, you refuse to go somewhere if your dad or I aren’t with you.  Anxiety sucks – especially when you’re too young to understand why you feel this way, or even tell us about it.

We understand anyway.  Which is why you’ve never had a babysitter, you’ve never spent the weekend with grandma, and you’ve never been away from us at all.  And that’s fine.  Because like this butterfly you’re holding, one day you will spread your wings and leave us.  One day you will learn to conquer your anxieties and go your own way, knowing that we’re always here, always your safe place.

 

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Your dad laughs sometimes and teases me that we’re co-dependent.  We’re not: but I recognize that you need a high level of physical contact.  For you, it grounds you.  Centers you.  You lay your head on my shoulder, and I rock you in a slow dance to music that only we can hear.  You lift your arms to me in the middle of the night and wail “snuggle!” and bleary-eyed, I pick you up and hug you.  Then you’re content.  Then you lay your head back on the pillow and drowsily mumble ‘night ni.”

And as long as your needs are met, you’re unstoppable.  You go, and go, and go … trailing me behind you as I try to keep an eye on your brother and sister too.  Then you don’t need me.  Then you’re happy running as far as you can go, safe in the knowledge that mommy will come and find you.  Mommy will know where you are.

Child, that is one of the scariest things.  Sometimes I don’t know where to find you.

Like that playground a few months ago.  You ran ahead with your siblings, and I followed with the water bottles, watching you all and trying to keep up.  By the time I caught up, you were gone.  Disappeared into the crowd of children buzzing around on spring break.  I snatched your siblings’ hands and we began a circuit of the playground, calling your name.  Once, and again…and I panicked.  I was so scared that I couldn’t even cry.  Even your brother, usually oblivious to my moods, realized that I was beyond scared and inches away from blind fear.

And we found you.  Happily riding on a teeter totter, oblivious to the fact that I was so worried.

And then you did it again.

The second time, we left after we found you.  I need my heart in working order, and that kind of double scare does bad things to your cardiac system.

 

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Son, I watch you learn and grow and I’m so proud of you.  Even this picture is a symbol of a battle won.  The first few butterflies you refused to go near.  You screamed and wailed at the museum’s butterfly garden when a moth fluttered near you.  You watched with fear in your eyes when a butterfly landed on my head.

And today, you asked to hold one.  You had one hand ready to fight it off, but you did it!  You conquered that fear!  At least, until it landed on your shirt and you panicked.  I had to rescue you from the horribly dangerous butterfly, intent on fluttering into your face.  And I’m sorry that I couldn’t hide the laughter.  Bad mommy.

 

Little man, I love you.  I can’t wait to see you grow up and become the awesome person you were meant to be.  And I don’t want to lose a second of the time I have with you – the time I have with all of you.

 

Mommy

 

 

I’m going to bookmark this post and read it the next time I’m annoyed that you hit your sister or deliberately destroyed your brother’s train.  Because yes, you are a little snot sometimes. 

p.s. I love you anyway.

Dear Son, I Love You
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