My sweet child,
Two years ago on this day, I finally saw your beautiful face for the very first time. It was surreal and wonderful all at the same time.
When you were born, you didn’t cry. People say that babies should always cry when they’re born; that’s how you know they’re okay. But you just looked around, eyes wide, strangely calm and curious about your new world. Someone—a nurse?—placed you in my arms and we looked at each other, you and I, as I quietly introduced myself: “Hi Henry. I’m your mama.”
Those beautiful moments in the first few hours gave way eventually to sheer exhaustion, hormonal tears (even uncontrollable weeping at times), an achy, healing body, and a fear that I could never be all that you deserved. Those first many weeks are a hazy memory, a foggy time in my life where I remember very, very little except that I was so tired all the time and my even my brain hurt to try to think.
Hitting the 12 week mark was huge for us. You started sleeping through the night, my body felt normal again, and our routine was fairly smoothed out. I finally felt some confidence in mothering and that made a huge difference in how I approached each day.
I now have 2 solid years of mothering under my belt and I wish I could go back and tell the early version of new mama self that it would get better. It gets so much better. Sure, we are now entering the stage of tantrums and big emotions and a strong will, but this is still far easier for me than the newborn stage was. Back in the beginning, I remember having swings of panic thinking, “What have we done? I can’t do this big, important job. Is this how the rest of my life will be?” And I’m not at all perfect at it now, but I do know that somewhere along the way it became truly fun. And when my mentality changed from my new role being a burden to being a joy and an honor, I allowed myself the freedom to truly let go and mother you in the best way I could.
These past couple of years, particularly this last one, have been the best of my life. I remember feeling like we hit a huge milestone a year ago. One year old! So many things became easier. But if I felt relieved to hit one year, I feel sad to hit two. You see, this past year has been so wonderful that I don’t even want it to end.
You do so many things now that make me think you’re far older than you actually are. You have a tendency to walk around with your hands clasped behind your back and it makes you look like an old man out for a stroll in the gardens. You love to lay on the floor on your stomach with your hands propping your chin up while you read books or play with your toys or watch a show. You look like a teenager when you do that. The other day, you were watching your favorite kid’s show (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) and suddenly I couldn’t see you on the floor anymore. When I finally spotted you, you were sitting on the couch, propped up among the pillows.
You have always loved reading. We’ve been reading you books since you were a baby. And though you now beg to play with technology (iPads, phones, the TV…everything), you still love reading books. When we go to get you up from your nap, we’ll often find you laying in your bed, quietly “reading” books that you’ve pulled off the shelf and into your crib. You go in spurts where you’ll obsess over one book for several days, begging to read it over and over and over until we are all sick of it. Currently, it’s “Bread and Jam for Frances”. Interspersed with sing-song rhymes about jam, we read other favorites like “The Snail and the Whale”, Little Blue Truck”, “Dancing Feet”, “Click, Clack, Moo”, “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile”, “Giraffes Can’t Dance”, “Sheep in a Jeep,” and “The Pout Pout Fish.”
You aren’t talking yet aside from a couple of words (“cookie” being your first and favorite), but one of my absolute favorite things that you do now is say “yeah”. You say it with such grown-up confidence, like when you bring me a book to read and I say, “Do you want to read this?”, you respond with, “Yeah.” You use different tones for it too so sometimes it like “yay!” and sometimes “duh” and sometimes “okay”. But always “yeah”. I love hearing you talk and I find your little voice to be the most darling sound I’ve ever heard.
We keep your scooter in the house and you ride it around like a champ, careening around the corners like a crazy person, dinging your little bell. You finally like stickers, though it has just been in the last few weeks that you’ve come to terms with them. (They used to freak you out; probably something you got from me as I cannot stand them to this day.) You love going to the farm to visit your grandparents; there’s just so much to do and see there. After a lifetime of coaxing, you finally road the tractor with your grandpa and discovered, oh hey, this is fun! You love all dogs and try to pet them all, even ones that don’t want to be touched. You love to play with anything with button—the remotes, calculators, etc.—and the GoPro recently caught your eye. You held it to your eyes and said “cheeeeee” with a fake smile plastered on your face. It made me laugh so much.
While there have been a few times that either your daddy or I were gone over night, earlier this month was the first time that we’ve both been gone from you at the same time. While we were in Colorado, you stayed with my parents and, aside from a 20-second FaceTime gone wrong, you were (so we’re told) a really great kid, eating well, sleeping great, listening and obeying, and mostly, having so much fun. My heart ached being away from you, but I was so happy to know that you were having a good time. We got home on a Sunday night and drove straight from the airport to their church to pick you up. You were playing on the floor in the back of the church and when you spotted us walking in from across the foyer, you hopped up and started running to us saying, “Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Oh yeah!” I couldn’t hold you tight enough.
We recently weaned you off of your pacifier during the day. It was during a course of a few weeks when you were chewing apart the pacifier wub-a-nubs and I refused to keep spending money on them when you’d tear through them in a day. (Gah, teething isn’t fun, kid!) In a full-sweep effort, we ditched the wub-a-nubs completely and gave you a plain pacifier without the animal attached while at the same time, asking you in the morning to leave your blankie and your “giraffe” (pacifier) in your bed. With theatrical dramatics, you lifted them really high then dropped them down on the mattress and left them there. We haven’t looked back. You still find comfort in having them when you go to sleep, but it’s a relief to be able to leave them in your bed.
Politics have been heavy in the world lately and all of it has made me so much more aware of how intentional we must be as you grow up. I need to be an example for you to follow; I want you to learn what’s right and what’s wrong. I want you to be gracious and loving; kind and forgiving; gentle and patient. You must know that it is never okay to bully someone. It is never okay to talk down to someone, even if they are different than you or different than most people around you. My prayer for you is that you will know God and love people. You will not fail if you do those two things. Your life has so much purpose and I’m so excited to see how it all unfolds.
Henry, you’re the joy of our lives and being your mama is hands down my greatest privilege. I love you so very much.
Happy birthday, my beautiful boy.