Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Woman in her Thirties, Five Years Out

Dear Mr. Bud,

This week you are five years old. FIVE. Ready to count?






In the words of your pre-school teacher this year, you are "pretty much a perfect little boy". You are curious and kind and energetic and smart and sweet and loving and not afraid to stand up for yourself. You love Power Rangers, sharks (Still! Though Sharky has been in semi-retirement for awhile. Don't worry- I still have him. I'm going to give him to the person you choose to marry one day, and tell them I hope you love them as much as you loved Sharky.) and your sister. Everything, every day, is all about sharing it with your sister.

(This isn't to say you always get along. No, that is definitely not the case. But for the most part, the vast majority of the time, I am beside myself with gratitude for the relationship you two share.)

You are an early riser like me. You love Lego Batman and Ninjago and Go Fish and Monopoly Junior and any other game where you can be silly. You love skating, much to my dismay, and much more to my dismay, you are really good at it.  Ugh.

The list of things you don't love is short: The dentist, roller coasters, and FOOD. That's right. FOOD. I keep waiting for the day that you figure out eating food is one of the great joys of life, but as of now, eating is your great de-motivator. You'd much rather be doing... well, anything else.

As I'm sure it will always be on your birthday, it's impossible for me to not get pretty reflective about your entry into this world. So let's go back to zero for a second, shall we?

Something very strange has happened over the last five years. The story of my pregnancy with you and your birth-- arguably one of the defining moments of my adult life-- has somehow faded. It has been condensed into, 'Yeah, that was a crazy time.' When it comes up with people I've just met, I simply say, 'I had a complicated pregnancy with Aaron,' and leave it at that. It's not that I don't want to talk about it, it's that there aren't words for it that adequately capture the whole of it. The fear those many months, that wild night you came, those long and scary days in the NICU, the cardiology visits, the healing of my own body that I am still-- five years later-- working on. 

We all have our hard times and dark moments, and at the end of all we've been through together is this:

So I am hardly sad or ungrateful. In fact, the past five years have been an exercise in real, actual gratitude that has changed my life in the most positive of ways. I'm different because of you, and all the ways that your entry into this world brought up the deepest fears in me. There's so much truth in that adage about needing darkness to appreciate the dawn. Someday, when you get out into this messed up world and make it better, you will understand this. 

But until you do, you're going to have to put up with me getting a little sentimental around your birthday. The tears I shed are ones of pure happiness, relief, and ultimately of humility. You, my beautiful birthday boy, are nothing short of a real, actual miracle. I won't forget it, and neither should you. 


Saturday, June 3, 2017

A Woman in her Thirties, Post-Grad

I would like to state for the record that I have always thought the whole pre-school graduation thing was major overkill.  I mean, seriously. Look at Aaron a couple weeks ago:

Can you even?

But as with all things in parenting, and all things as I grow older (39! What?!) my tune is starting to change. The truth is that I grew up thinking that people who changed a strongly held opinion were weak or wishy-washy. It explains why I held on to bad relationships, why I worked endlessly to prove a point in an argument that had long since blown over, why I held on (still hold on) to customs and traditions and memories. I associated stubbornness with strength.

Don't get me wrong- sometimes stubbornness is strength. Persist, ladies! You don't owe anyone a damn thing! But that conviction needs to come from within you, not from some outside source or self-imposed pressure.

I thought of this as I watch Aaron walk down the aisle to the Graduation March song, singing songs about fun and learning, holding back tears. I realized I was holding back because I'd told myself at some point that this was ridiculous, and not allowing myself to feel the feels was a difficulty I only had myself to blame for.

This has been happening a lot lately, at least for me. The realization that the person I thought I was or would be is not actually the person I am.

I had always been very sure that by age 39 I would be the grown-up version of me. And yes, in some ways I am. But the grown-up version of me has also realized that the growing up process doesn't have an end point. It's evolving constantly. It's when it stops evolving that the world seems to fall apart.

My children are now off to the final year of preschool and first grade. Which is nuts.

Soon my influence will start to become less important. Soon I won't be able to keep up with their homework. Soon they're going to have to figure out how to manage life without me constantly at their sides.

So in case I forget, or in case my own stubbornness prevents me from showing it all the time, I hope they know that it's okay to cry at graduations, it's fine to find new friends or change a belief, that evolving and changing is a totally wonderful part of life. In fact, the evolving and changing is probably the most worthwhile part of living.