Here I am, back in Sapville, celebrating another one of my kids’ birthdays, wondering how it got here so quickly and feeling my usual punched-in-the-gut sensation over the passage of time.
I don’t have a two year-old anymore.
Ohmygod, I shouldn’t blog after a glass of wine. OK, two glasses.
As my son’s third birthday has been approaching, friends and family have invariably remarked that now he’s not a baby anymore, which makes my eyes narrow and my head spin.
The denial center of my brain refutes their claim. OF COURSE he’s still a baby.
But I see what they’re saying. A little.
The past year has been full of crazy ups and downs for my youngest child. He spends his days forging the path to his independence and putting his stamp on his place in this family. He pushes the boundaries that you’d expect him to push at this age and, with that, comes the oh-so-fun era of the irrational tantrums. When he hits an emotional wall and can’t express himself, his frustration level is quick and sky-high. And, anywhere from two to twenty minutes later, his chubby arms are tossed around my neck and he is demanding kisses.
In a single 24-hour period, this is a decent representation of how his time is spent.
*I didn’t have the mental wherewithal to make a secondary pie chart dedicated to the Paw Patrol discussion breakdown, but in the name of data accuracy, I’d say that Marshall and Chase take up a fair amount of his mental bandwidth. Along with the ever-tiresome Mayor Humdinger. When will they write him off? Even my toddler can predict his bullshit.
Sometime this year, my son finally started sleeping through the night on an almost-regular basis. Just in time for him to waver on napping! The nap he so clearly needs is now his fight song, filled daily with various negotiations that really require a professional mediator because it’s a cause, on opposite sides, over which we’re both willing to fall on our respective swords. (His sword is, of course, BPA-free plastic.)
And for all of his decisive and stubborn views all day long about which color bowl the cereal will be served in to which variation of his four McQueens will accompany us to the grocery store (“NOT THAT ONNNNNNNE”), he is all about affection on demand.
“Mommy, I want to come see you” is not some far away cry from another room to get me into his field of vision. It is often stated from right at my feet and, properly translated, means “Pick me up. I am emotionally spent from everything in my little head and I need a break up there by you.”
The hugs follow, but only after he asks me to move my hair out of the way. Always on the same side. Always in the same crook of my neck.
This perch on my hip that he seeks out when he is fried is perhaps the best bridge between his baby self and him growing up a little. The demands and articulation are not that of a baby, but the end result of being held and comforted and rocked, maybe even to sleep every once in a blue moon, keeps his babyhood close to my heart.
This year brought so many other changes for him, like hitting the pre-school routine and a Celiac diagnosis, both of which he handled much better than I did. He has held onto some of his favorite things from last year, like his loyalty to Thomas and the Island of Sodor, but he fills his chatter with whatever he hears around him as well — like borderline-inappropriate phrases from his nine year-old brother, as well as a glossary of baked goods that his sister teaches him in her Food Network addiction. He is always in his siblings’ orbits at home, getting in the mix and just trying to keep up. He sees them off to school every day and insists on busting out of his stroller at pick-up to greet them, all while chatting with the other moms like he’s on some PTO committee. His own personality is clearly emerging, and every day it’s really fantastic to get a more of a view into who he will become.
This last child of mine holds my heart in a way that perhaps nobody else could. It doesn’t mean I love him more than my other children, but I know that love makes me hold onto his baby days a little longer and tighter.
Even without the wine in my head, it makes me sad that we won’t have a two year-old again. But that’s OK.
Happy third birthday to my sweet, sweet baby.