Thursday, May 30, 2013

To My Son, On His First Birthday

Dear Sweet Baby Grasshopper,

You are ONE! You are amazing! You are suddenly so BIG and it breaks my heart and is simultaneously so. much. FUN!

Where do I start? You have been a whirlwind and trouble since you were still in my belly. The events of my pregnancy with you turned me from someone who suffers from a slightly elevated level of neurosis on a daily basis to a woman in constant risk of totally losing it. And to be honest, there are still days where things are like that between us. For me, that pregnancy journey was about really learning to trust God, and not just to fix a trial, but to trust that He would carry me through one that couldn't be fixed. I had a lot of fear in the weeks leading up to your birth, but I learned that the ONLY thing that conquers fear is faith, and that sometimes faith is hard work. But always, it is worth it. Your father of course, was a perfect example of exercising faith. He always has been, and was my steady rock (along with the healthy sounds of your NSTs and the oft-counted kicks) through the uncertainty.

When you were born, oh, how I rejoiced at your safe arrival. You were strong and feisty and sheer perfection. You were my easiest recovery from a birth, but also my neediest baby. We had a tough go of it at times in this first year, as you rarely slept. Ever. You've never taken a pacifier and are attached to no lovey. Instead, your comfort items are me--nursing at the breast, pulling on my skin, chewing on my hair. At times it seemed that you were never satisfied with the level of closeness between you and me, but that you would literally chew my hair to get closer to me. And I admit, as a mom, there are times where I would hand you off to Dad and run to the store just to get at little distance.

You are my "Koala Baby" or "Velcro Baby"--the vast majority of your life has been spent in my arms. While I am exhausted by the busyness that your recent ability to walk has brought on, I am also glad for the respite it brings at times--for the personal space I regain while you destroy something besides me. You are now a year old and you still wake every 2-3 hours in the night, and a 45 minute nap in the day is practically a miracle. There were probably too many lazy days, too many dishes left undone, and too few sweet moments captured in all my sleep deprivation, but what I do know is that I wouldn't trade you for anything, even if it meant a year of uninterrupted nights! First of all, you are the only of my three babies who will actually snuggle me. Your brother and sister never had much interest in snuggling, and I am so grateful for the way you will sit quietly in my lap sometimes or fall asleep on my chest.

And, even though it is at times hard, I love that I am your favorite. By about six months old for both your brother and sister, Daddy was the favorite. They knew when he was coming home, and they looked forward to it. They were always happy to play with Daddy and sometimes fussed about being handed back to Mom. There is no doubt that I am your favorite. In fact, I can be sitting in my office working and hear you happily playing with Dad or the babysitters, and if I sneak in to use the restroom or get a drink, and you spy me, it's all over--you'll weep and wail and cry "muhMAH" until I come over and sooth your pitiful abandoned self. And yes, that's sometimes exhausting, like when the house is a wreck (always, since you came along, sweet thing) or dinner needs making. But it's also kind of sweet to know that no matter what everyone else in the world may think of me, I am your favorite person on the planet.

What you lack in sleep skills, you make up for in personality. You are at times the most pensive child I have ever seen. I love watching you watch things. You have this funny way of pulling in your bottom lip and gently furrowing your brow as you observe the world around you in a most meditative way. When strangers talk to you, you use this wistful expression on them until you decide whether they are friend or foe. Generally, you decide they are friend, and how you light up! I get so many questions from perfect strangers about whether you are always this happy, or what I do to have such a happy child. (The answers are: no, you are not always that happy because sometimes I try to make you sleep; and apparently if you want a happy baby, all you need do is never let it sleep, but take it out in public to perform for strangers!) You have one of those smiles that just makes people laugh out loud at you, and not in a "oh, what a sweet baby" kind of way, but a deep, surprising sort of way. Perhaps it comes from the contrast in your expressions, but I think it really is just that kind of smile that tells people that we're all children of God and He's closer than we think.

You don't dance. I think this is funny because your brother and sister both danced as soon as (or before) they were walking. You do not ever dance. Instead, you come over and sit in my lap or sit on the floor when your brother and sister are dancing about and give them that thoughtful look as though your are attempting to figure out just what this silly ritual is that they are performing. You clap for them now when they are done, and you'll laugh and giggle if I spin you around, but dancing is not yet your thing.

You spend a long time studying the pictures in books. When we read a book, you are very intent on a page, and if I turn it before you have fully completed your perusal of it, you will inform me with your angry squawks of your displeasure. You aren't big on TV (which to be honest, I have at times just wished you would sit and watch a Baby Einstein or something to get five minutes to myself!), but you do get very enthralled momentarily when the big kids want to watch Kipper. Something about that opening theme song just pulls you in.

You are so funny! And I really do think you know it. You have this funny little "Huh-huh" laugh that you use when you've done something that you know if funny. I love the little glint in your eye when you catch my attention--that infectious smile and one little raised eyebrow get me laughing every time. That same pensive quality you have lets you know when people will be surprised by your actions, I think, and you anticipate that you'll get a reaction. Sometimes, you like to poke me or stick a finger in my nose or smack me while you nurse, and you get a mischievous little smile, and laugh your little giggle. You'll peek around the corner at someone and giggle, you'll throw away a piece of food to get your brother and sister to laugh at you. I'm so amazed that such a little guy already has his timing down so well!

In just the last few weeks, your growth in every area has simply exploded. In the last month to six weeks, you have started to fully walk on your own, to reliably say a few words, to clap, to eat a variety of solid foods of all textures, to color, and to point. You got your first two teeth around six months, but haven't had any more come in for a while. Now, in just the last few weeks, your teething has been nuts--right now you are working on six teeth. At least three of them have finally broken through, and I think the next few will be just days behind. You'll have a mouth full of teeth in no time.

You say "mama" and "dad-dad" with knowledge of what they mean. My favorite expression you say right now is "HUMM" which roughly translates to "That looks yummy! Can I have some?" Any time someone is about to eat something, you will wander over and expectantly repeat "HUMM! HUMM!" until we share (or in the case of your brother, until he says, "No! No HUMM!").

In the last couple months, you have also become a much bigger fan of your Daddy. Where before, there may have been times when you didn't even want to let him hold you, you have now learned the great secret about Daddies: they are super FUN! You've learned to wrestle and roll about, to be tickled, to giggle and laugh with Dad and that it is a blast. I love this special relationship that your dad gets to have with you.

You absolutely adore your siblings. Squirrel comes in to the bedroom where you sleep with me most mornings, and you are always so happy to see her! I think your favorite part of the day is when she comes in and talks baby-ease to you and then drags you off to play with her. She's always my first up and always happy to rise, and so she's always good to carry you away for play time in the mornings. And you laugh and giggle as she carries you happily into the hallway or her bedroom.

When it comes to Little Bird, his feelings are not always as warm--I don't think he quite understands that you're just a baby, and so now that you're busy enough to do things like climb on him and pull hair, he'll push or yell at you, and we're working on that. But he does love you so! In fact, his love for you and his desire to help with you has been an unexpected, but delightful, surprise. He loves to wrestle with you, to play with you and your toys, even to help me out by taking out diapers or attempting to make you bottles. He's always looking out for you! He will be an awesome big brother, and I can picture the two of you on many adventures as you grow!

You are becoming more independent--with your recent mobility, you seem to experience less frustration and boredom than in the previous months. There is more trouble for you to get into and that really delights you. Even with your new independence, I am still home-base, and I love the way you'll wander off to check something out, and then return to sit in my lap and observe from afar. I love this relationship we have, this push and pull. I can see it being the type of mother-son relationship that helps you explore your world safely and learn new things in a deeper way because I hope you'll always bring back what you've learned and allow me to help you process it. I know that the bigger you get, the less time you'll spend with me as your "base," but I hope there will always be time spent there, no matter how little. To me, it will always be meaningful. And as difficult as it sometimes has been to give up so much of myself to being your mom, I wouldn't change it for the world. Because in the end, I'm getting all those pieces back, and they are so much richer and better than I could have hoped.

I love you, my sweet little Grasshopper. Thank you for coming to me and for being you. I'm so grateful to have you (constantly!) by my side and a part of our family.



  1. I love this. He's a lucky boy to have such a thoughtful and loving mama who writes him beautiful letters. And I love this look into your amazing boy.

  2. O I miss being there to watch him and the others grow and learn! I love you all.

  3. O how I miss having time with him and the other two I love them so!


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