He is two days and two years old. I didn’t even think about writing on his birthday. I spent it with him.
Two years and two days ago I was just starting to push, just starting to finish, on the verge of meeting my son face to face for the first time.
A year ago, he couldn’t walk. He knew a handful of words. He would climb onto things without knowing how to get down, find himself without sufficient language to ask for things or explain himself. He was waking every two hours at night, sleeping worse than he ever had as a newborn, and my husband and I were going more than a little crazy.
Running down the road, jumping, climbing rocks with an agility that amazes me. He recounts stories, makes up songs, tells jokes, plays tricks (still my Trickster). He sleeps through the night most nights, wakes with a smile, a snuggle in my bed, and demands for “oats!” “raisins!” “yogurt” or, for some reason this morning, “popcorn!” He no longer nurses, no longer needing my body for nourishment just as he hardly needs it to get around this world. He can pretty much recite “Good Night Moon” and a handful of other books to his stuffed animals and baby Nora.
Sometimes he doesn’t listen, blocking out my requests or my calls for safety. Sometimes he hits or pinches, grabs the dog’s feet or tail, and laughs, still not aware of the pain he causes. Sometimes he gets on a streak in which everything is just awful and he will whine and pout no matter what he is given. He is, after all, only two.
But he will also cross back and forth across the yard with his wheelbarrow to help us stack the firewood that got delivered this week. He loves to help me bake, to “wash” the dishes after, to help sweep, to wash his hands. He loves to carry the dog’s leash when we walk her, to carry a bag or an object for me, to help fold laundry.
He is coming along wonderfully.
And I? What about me, the mother, the Mama. While I have an unbeatable husband and in-laws who are close and parents who are insistent about Skype dates and visits and gifts, while I have friends and a sibling and brothers- and sisters-in-law who are all remarkably loving, I am the one present most of the time most days. I am the one trying to carry my patience through toddler-slowness and toddler-indecision and screaming rashy diaper changes. I am the one with the opportunity to make up songs about tunnels and trains and whales and caterpillars, the one to point out all of the things that we see when we walk, when we grocery shop, when we play in the backyard, when we visit friends.
I am the teacher, the cook, the laundress, the housekeeper, the nurse, the jailer, the emancipator.
I don’t give myself enough credit. Do most relatively new moms? Do most moms? Given what I’ve read and heard in my life, do most women? Do most people? I hem and haw that I’ve hardly written these past two years, that I’ve sewn so little, that it takes me months to make the amount of money many people make every paycheck, that I’m Not Good Enough. I’m too young, too sloppy, too selfish, too romantic. But I’m not those things. I am doing the best I can with what I have.
I keep talking about what I am to Thomas, or what I’m not. But I keep trying to steer myself toward what I am to me. I am figuring things out. I am making connections with friends, with people who could potentially help me find work in the coming years, with my community. I am percolating with and fermenting all of the ideas and emotions that go along with wife- and motherhood. I am plotting another novel. I reminded myself two days ago that I get the life I always wanted: I take walks and cook and bake and read. I linger outside. I listen to music. And I get to do it all with someone who is so excited and curious about so many things. The past few weeks have been about recognizing that, holding onto the awareness.
It’s been an impossible two years (and two days). But it’s also been pretty amazing.