My baby man turned two years old this September and we celebrated for two days. Started the festivities with a trip to Seaworld the day before his bday to see the “fishies”. Spent that night at a beach cottage and ate plenty of s’mores. Awoke on his birthday morning as the sun was about to come up over the Pacific, and spent hours playing in the sand. Continued the celebration that afternoon with his first trip on a train. He’s obsessed with “frains” since we live along Coast highway where trains are constantly whizzing back and forth, so he was so pretty stoked about riding one. We rode down to Encinitas to eat at the food trucks, missed the return train, made a mad dash to catch the next one and finally made it home well after dark. Next came presents and cake. Normally the peak of birthday happiness, they were a bit anticlimactic after all the excitement we had already experienced. None the less our Jeremiah opened boxes of toy trains, ate a frosting covered choo choo and went to bed a very happy, tired little man.
Amidst all the activity I think I skipped the fact that my baby has grown to be a toddler. Maybe that’s why I planned all the excitement, for his joy but also to ease me through the pain of this mile marker. A monument to passing time. It seems each day recently brings unexpected new wonders and also steals away something I adore. Grateful does not describe seeing him run and play and hearing his voice sweetly stumble over first words. I never saw my Joshua do any of this, I will never see him grow before my eyes. But amidst the thankfulness for a little boy grown strong, my heart is torn, breaking over each bit of babyhood slipping away. I wrote about this frustrated dance I am doing with time recently, maybe it’s just a realization of how foreign a thing time is to my soul.
The old women, wise men, tv shows and self help books answer to the years flying by is – Be Present. Seize the Day! But these commands have always felt like too much pressure to me. It’s like a sage voice whispering over your shoulder that you have to do it all now and enjoy it all fully, take it all in, never be distracted or disgruntled – no pressure – ha! If I just muddle on then maybe I won’t have to think about the fact that we can’t ever be truly fully present in our befuddled little bodies. We can’t actually seize the moment can we? If I could I wouldn’t be in this quandary. The moments just keep running on, slipping through our fingers like so much sand, seconds like rushing water . . . I just can’t work myself up to that bravado or focus or whatever it may be. No offense to anyone who can, maybe I just need more meditation in my life. But one thing comes clear easily. Contentment. To be thankful for, content with the moment I am in, that seems feasible to me. Not a fake, plastered on smile, a manic happiness that ignores the reality of every minute fleeting and less than it was meant to be. But a sigh down deep, a breath taken in gratitude and released in peace. As C. S. Lewis said – thankful for today’s blooms, not grasping for yesterday’s fading flowers, looking hopeful towards tomorrow’s buds. As I bend humbled and flow toward contentment I will never remember it all. But the blooms unfolded will flicker back to me, minutes and days growing richer as the years layer on. Patches of time, frayed around the edges like fabric worn to perfection.
So as we blow out the candles and move into his third year in our arms, my mind retraces, picking out and storing away what I hope will linger – Little rituals I hope will never fade from my mind’s eye, sounds I long to always hear dancing in my ears, glimpses of truth that make my heart glow warm . . .
his hair glistening blond, the wind and light forming it into countless masterpieces
give me a kiss I say and he puckers up and leans forward to my lips with a smooching sound
“ree book” and we turn page after page, he never tires of sitting on my lap, lost in story
“DONO” everything good to eat is dono, named after his first favorite – donuts from our donut shoppe. if it’s especially good – “Happy Dono!”
he pronounces happy – “hoppy” and his face lights up like the sun and a million stars. he is joy itself spilling over onto our silly tired old lives
I hold him to my breast and ask about his day just as I did his brother. he nods his head to tell me what he liked and I feel his heart beat content
“pool pool” he calls out wether it is the bathtub, pool or ocean, he just wants to be in the water. little blond head bobbing between green floaties. we climb out of the water, pop him in a towel and I trudge home shivering with my dripping bundle. home and we eat popsicles melting as the sun warms us
he adores Nemo with an undying love that borders on obsession. considers all fishies his brothers and requires numerous stories about “fishties” to be read to him. killer whales and sharks are “rawrs” pronounced with the most adorable growl I have personally ever heard
when a train zooms past he screams “frain frain” and wants everyone to stop and furiously make the baby sign for locomotive with their hands
“dog gee, dog gee. dog gee!” he is obsessed. lives to see them and crawls with his pink tongue out, my pretend puppy
he is a momma’s boy who adores his daddy. in awe of the big man that is so tender with him and flies a “brrrrrr”, asking for a honk as he drives away in the morning, rushing for a hug the minute daddy walks in the door at night
he thinks his brothers are superhero giants, but also is convinced that he rules the world
when he does need something he says help me in the cutest, most pathetic voice you have ever heard “he me, he me”
he gobbles up little mandarin oranges like they are candy
his favorite is waking up and climbing into bed to “feep” between mommy and daddy, blanket tucked under his chin, he’s actually still for a half a moment
his munchie little toes are reason enough to live and his tummy sticks out just so
he is a dinosaur/monster fierce, wreaking havoc on all who cross his path in the living room
his soul knows saltwater and seabreeze, sundrenched days and winding garden paths
picking cherry tomatoes and strawberrdies off the potted plants in our backyard. he holds the fruit to the sky, announcing “dono” and quickly pops them in his mouth
if we forget to join hands and pray before we eat he stretches out his tiny fingers and calls out “pay”, smiles as daddy thanks God for the food, for our family and Jeremiah – his face lights up, we say amen and he throws his arms in the air rejoicing
he cares so deeply when anyone gets hurt, gently touches their owie, whispering “uh ow” his eyes and voice filled with concern and sadness for their pain
besides mommy the other love of his life is spaghetti
every night daddy and I tuck his brothers into bed while he runs crazy down the hall, then books in the rocking chair, his head on our shoulder we sing amazing grace, lay him down, pat his back singing give me joy in my heart, a kiss on the head and wonder at his legs stretching ever longer across the sheets
He is more than all this. but I fumble at the essence and scratch down a few bits to return to when he is flown out into life. And amidst diapers and temper tantrums (yes even this angel sometimes has them) tiredness and my constant falling short I revel in this motherhood. I hold my blond boy close and try to walk this journey with him openhanded, so that he may find paths his own. If I could catch up all the perfection I would and strain from it the faults. But I know the only way I will ever keep his heart close is to simply sit in contentment, each moment as it comes.