Sometimes I think your brother got the better deal. By the time I had him I was over a few things: namely, the identity crisis of giving up career and status, the need to have things entirely my way, and an irrational fear of infanthood. I’d like to believe I am a work in progress. I am doing my dutiful best to improve as your mother, leader, and mentor.
Sadly, though, while I have been doing all this self-discovery you are growing up. You benefit from my unadulterated, fierce love and the energy you bring to me – but you are also the recipient of my many mistakes.
I know you. You love to sing and you love to hear me sing. You love many of the things I love: sewing, listening to music at top volume, taking baths (together!), watching B movies. You like many things I don’t: Disney princesses, jokes about bodily functions, Regina Spektor.
You love swimming more than anything else I can think of right now. Any time your head emerges from the water you are smiling. Your skin tends toward dryness so I’m always lotioning you up after you swim. Last time I pulled out the Gold Bond – very effective but with an unappealing medicinal scent – and you groaned, “Oh no!” I laughed because I should just throw it out and buy you something new – it’s so “mom” of me to continue slathering it on you until it’s run out and it’s so “you” that you complain but allow it.
You love reading, especially graphic novels. Sweet ones, quirky ones, violent ones – anything you can get your hands on.
You are kind to animals. I was looking through our many photographs of you and your love for animal life is remarkable. You carried our new kitty home the summer day we picked him up, you attempted surgery on our traumatized chicken, and you are completely at ease with creatures large and small – knowing our pets’ many moods and proclivities better than the rest of us. You’ve told me you want to be a veterinarian someday. I can see if that’s the path you choose that you will be well-suited.
Just these last few weeks you’ve taken to sleeping in your own bunkbed. You’ve also not always been willing to cuddle or sit on my lap when I want. I’ve decided to look forward to and absolutely treasure the moments. Luckily, they still happen often. This morning when you woke you came and found me and climbed into my arms while I sang you “Happy Birthday”.
Why don’t you be a little blonder and cuter? Because it’s NOT POSSIBLE.
Having children means the revival of the punkin-patch. Thanks for being a constant source of renewed joy in life’s little pleasures.
Is now a good time to mention you not only cuddled your brother a lot but helped out with the cloth diapering tons, too? I owe you back-pay, I admit it.
Marine Science Center; I had Nels in the Didymos on my back and I was enthralled with the both of you.
The way your lip is pooched out in this picture reminds me: you used to suck your thumb! For four-point-five years.
You and your friend C.; you were wonderfully suited to one another. Your daddy has always been awesome at fixing up your hair.
I bought you this mattress, and all the bedding, and you loved it. Name of the little creature you’re holding (that you crafted in church camp): “Muffin”.
Up at the Fort, ready for action.
On yet another hike. Don’t tell anyone there’s like, a six foot drop under your feet. You guys were fine.
I found this coat abandoned on some playground; you wore it for years. The hat you still have; it actually fits now.
Port Townsend, our last day. You were both ready for (more) adventure. Nels was getting over pinkeye.
“Is there a ghost in my house?” You helped us pick and move into the place on Eklund. You approved of the purple house across the street.
We ride public transit a lot more now that we’re in HQX. You and your brother are experts!
Cooking in the Eklund kitchen; well, I cooked, and you’re about to eat. I loved the sunlight during the spring.
Que bonita! Remember when we went tree-trimming for swags, and had lunch at Galway Bay after? You probably don’t, but your father and I do. That’s pizza on your face, by the way.
Doing what you love: swimming. These days you can swim the width of the pool and are learning back- and breastroke. You go off the diving board rarely and reluctantly. You enjoy doing headstands and having me throw goggles for you to hunt and retrieve.
Out at Lake Quinault. You and Nels, a precisely-tuned engine of play.
Soccer! We never missed a game this summer. You are an excellent defender.
Tonight’s birthday dinner choice: Alexander’s Restaurant.
Thank you for being a true inspiration. You are the smartest little thing in our house. I look forward to many more days with you; as many as you have to spare.