My Dearest Alexander:
Today you are two! Exactly two years ago today, in the mid-afternoon, you came screaming into this world. Last year I wrote a letter to you on your first birthday, documenting your birth and the changes that occurred in your first year of life. Your birth was long, hard, painful, and followed by a long, hard, painful, recovery. Never once did I wish things were different, because I had you.
Last year at this time I was shocked at how much you had changed! From newborn to walking in a single year! You went from baby to young toddler, gaining emotions, communication, movement. It astounded me, and I didn’t think you could possibly change so much in such a short period of time again.
Boy, was I wrong. From one to two you have become a person. We have conversations now; you run and jump, fall and cry, cuddle and kiss. From one to two you have gone from walking to running, saying a few words to full sentences, 31.5 inches to at least 36.
From one to two, you have grown immensely. And every day my love for you grows immensely.
You are a strong-willed child, full of opinions about everything. You know what you want, what you like and don’t like, where you want to go and who you want to be with. Always on the go, you are fascinated by just about everything. Whether I’m cooking, cleaning, reading, playing on my computer, you insist on “helping.” You want to help mix the stir-fry, chop the vegetables, turn on the television.
I don’t know what the next year brings, but I have high hopes. You are such a sweet, caring, intelligent, independent, active young boy, and I know that you will do great things and be a great person.
My darling Alexander, I love you. Happy Birthday!
Mommy (You stopped calling me “Mama” many months ago now. It was my first clue that your language was about to explode. Now, you call me “Mommy” approximately 1.82 million times a day.)
The second birthday slideshow:
I have been sitting on this post for months. I’m worried that it is not going to come across the way that I want it to. I’m not angry, just thoughtful. Sometimes it’s hard to get a point across correctly, so I can only hope that the people who read my blog know me well enough to know that this is just me sharing some thoughts.
Over and over again I’ve been told how lucky I am to have had a son so young. I’m not too young to be totally inept, and I’m not too old to be, well, old, I guess. And there is certainly a lot to be said for having a child at 21.
When Alex graduates from high school, I’ll be 40. Forty. That means I’ll still have so much time left to live without a kid running around my house. (Unless, of course, there is another baby in my future.)
But it’s not easy being a 23 year old mom.
When people see me with Alex, they often mistake me for his babysitter. Once I have explained that I’m actually his mother, thankyouverymuch, I get this look from them. This look that says “Oh…you got knocked up and decided to keep the baby. Wow.” or the look that says, “Sorry to hear that another teenager wound up pregnant.” I wasn’t a teenager, but even if I had been, the judgement is harsh. Because “teenage mom” is never said it a positive way.
I don’t know what it’s like to be a “normal” aged mom. Honestly, I don’t even know what that means. I can’t say that I think it would be easier to be, say, 28, 32, 38, in my situation. I can’t say it would be harder, either. All I know is that it is never easy. Parenthood is not a breeze. It’s not supposed to be easy.
When Alex wakes up at 6am, which he inevitably does, my brain hurts. My body hurts. I’m only 23! I’m supposed to be staying up late and sleeping in.
I only know two other people within a year of me who have children. And I only “know” them still because of Facebook.
While every other one of my friends is out partying on Friday and Saturday nights, staying up until the wee hours of the morning, and then sleeping in as late as they want the next day, I’m home with a toddler. While they are working office hours or irregular hours, coming home to an empty apartment or even back to their parent’s house, I am working 24/7. While every other one of my friends gets a break, some alone time, some peace and quiet, I don’t. While they are taking classes, drinking, shopping whenever they feel like it, I’m busy chasing a toddler around or thinking about whoever is chasing him around if I’m not with him. And that’s okay. I love my toddler. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s just not easy. It is not “easier” to be the mom of a toddler because I’m “young.” It’s still exhausting, and often very lonely. As the only person my age with a kid, my social life is very limited and very different than I had ever imagined it would be at 23.
Maybe my age gives me the advantage of having more energy to chase him around day after day. But I still don’t have the ability to function on too little sleep. And I don’t have the ability to be nice every time someone judges me for being a young mom. And I certainly have not grown out of my “it’s all about me” phase yet.
That phase. You know the one. It’s called being a teenager. It’s called being horribly selfish. I was a teenager a mere 5 years ago. And it takes a while to become less selfish.
It requires a lot of energy to be selfless. We all knows this. I don’t know if, as we age, we become better at this, but from my experience we do. I certainly am better able to be selfless with Alex now than I would have been, say, 5 years ago.
But maybe it’s even harder to be selfless as an “older” mom. Maybe years of being able to live as an adult, single or married, without kids, makes the idea of having to suddenly put your life on hold for a child harder. Or maybe at that point it’s easier because, in theory, you are ready for it.
When it comes right down to it, who is to decide what is “easier” or “harder” anyway? Is it harder being a stay at home mom or a work out of home mom? Is it harder being a mom as a student, or being a mom who can’t find a job? Is it harder being a teen mom, or a mom in her 50’s?
I do my best not to judge any mother. While I don’t always succeed, it is important for me, as a mom who is judged all the time, to recognize that every mom has struggles and every parent has different beliefs in how to raise children. If I see a mom hit a kid, I have trouble not judging because it is against my own personal beliefs on how to raise children. But I try to step back, and remember that they are doing the best they can. And that they are probably in turn judging me for buying my son a snack nearly every time we go out shopping together.
I guess at the end of the day the grass is always greener on the other side. But at the end of the day, we are still living in grass. And it’s beautiful.
I’m currently reading Year of Wonders, a story about a 17th century small town in England that gets attacked by the plague. The protagonist loses her two young children to this vicious bacteria carried via fleas, and her loss is just as we would expect: she loses it. She is unable to do her work, think properly, or eat.
When she is confronted by a neighbor who tells her that she shouldn’t have become so attached to her children, that she should never love anyone more than she loves God, she is, basically, baffled. She wonders why God would let her love someone so much if she wasn’t supposed to?
While this is never something I have had to question as I believe that there is no love that can compare to the love of a child, it made me wonder a few things. First, are there people who love their God more than their own children? Second, how is is possible to love someone so very much?
If an adult comes into your life, first you may like them. Then you may grow to respect them. And then, after much time together, you may love them. But a child comes into your life and it’s just BAM love. A more intense love than anything you have ever experienced. (This isn’t to say it happens right away for everyone. I know many people who say it didn’t happen for a few months, or even a few years.) You would do anything, and you do anything, for this new person. This new, helpless, little person that just entered your life.
From the moment I saw Alex, I was in love. I sobbed with a mixture of joy from seeing his tiny little perfect face and fear of what his future life would be like. Will he be happy? Will I be a good mother? From the moment I saw his tiny button nose, I knew that I would forever and ever be his. I would be his mother, but it would be more than that. I would do anything for him.
As Alex continues to grow it is becoming more rewarding to have this intense love for him. He runs with a huge grin on his face and asks for a hug whenever I’ve been gone for more than a few minutes. He gives me kisses, asks for more kisses, and sometimes will give continual kisses for minutes at a time.
Today he said, “I wuv yooou.”
How could anyone not love that more than everything else in the world?
In 11 days, Alex will turn two.
I’m still not sure how I feel about that.
Every day, he becomes more of a person. Every day, his sentences get longer. Every day, he surprises me with a new skill. Every day, he gives me kisses. Every day, he has at least one melt down.
In 11 more days, he will be different than he is today. He will have a larger vocabulary, he will walk and run more smoothly, he will have invented new games, tried new foods, and will be two.
I’m not exactly sure when in the last few months it started, but Alex refers to himself as “baby.” It’s unbelievably cute. He requests that someone does something, and then tells himself to do it too. “Mommy walk! Mm…Baby walk!” “Daddy take a bite? Baby take a bite!” It’s too sweet to even consider stopping. Even though he isn’t a baby anymore, I am going to hold on to that for as long as I possibly can.
I’ve been meaning to get Alex’s haircut for, uh, 2 months? His hair grows really fast, and with how thick and uncooperative it is, the second it has the ability to reach his eyes it won’t be found anywhere else. Brush it to the side? It falls right back into the position it wants to be in.
While I was visiting Sarah two weeks ago, my mom took the liberty of trimming the front of his hair. I would have cared if he wasn’t in dire need of it. And, quite frankly, his hair grows so fast that even if she had buzzed it I probably would have still needed to schedule another haircut in the next few weeks. The hair was out of his eyes, so I went on with my life for another two weeks before finally finding the time (and fourteen bucks) to get it cut professionally.
The only problem with those extra two weeks while I waited to schedule his haircut was what happened with Alex’s look. What once was just messy, outgrown, hair, had become a…a… mullet. Not a full, real, classic Pittsburgher loving mullet, but it was obviously shorter in the front and much longer in the back. My poor kid was turning into such a Pittsburgher. Once I realized that, I scheduled his haircut.
Behold, new and improved Alexander! No mullet!
I don’t know exactly when in my surgery they removed part of my brain, but they obviously did. I can’t form a coherent thought these days, and seem to be stumbling over nothing again and again.
Today, while Alex was in daycare as I continue my recovery from surgery, I decided I would clean. Me, the person who hates all things related to cleaning, decided that instead of, you know, recovering, I would clean my bathroom and study and do eighty bajillion loads of laundry. No brain I has.
As I start pulling things out of my bathroom something falls. From the sky. I swear, I have no idea where something would have fallen from when I wasn’t even reaching up high. It was nail polish. I have not worn nail polish in years. Where did this come from? Obviously, the sky. And, of course, it broke in half. The bottom half of the nail polish bottle landed smack dab in the toilet and the top landed on the floor right by the toilet.
Needless to say, I was not amused. And I ended up with a pink hand.
Clearly, the girl who doesn’t wear nail polish has no need for nail polish remover. Fortunately, it all came off of the toilet and floor with just a little elbow grease. Unfortunately for my hand, scrubbing didn’t work so well.
Now, I suppose I shouldn’t just blame this on the surgeon. He probably didn’t remove part of my brain and unless scientists are missing the true function of the gallbladder there is no reason I should have lost any cognitive ability. Really, it’s just that I’m clumsy. Always, inevitably, undoubtably, invariably, clumsy. I drop things, spill things, accidentally hurl things across the room, burn things, smack things (and people), trip over things (and nothing). So this nail polish incident was just a little more pink than my usual clumsiness.
I hope Alex doesn’t have my same clumsiness genes, because with his love of climbing things? That could be bad.
On second thought, I hope he outgrows my clumsiness genes.
The last few weeks have been busy.
I took four final exams, a quiz, and did a barrel full of homework.
I had blood drawn, went to seven various other appointments, dyed my hair and didn’t spend nearly enough time with Alex.
I drove six hours to visit my bestest friend in the whole wide world.
I drove another six hours home, picked up Alex from daycare, and spent the evening marveling over the fact that he somehow grew an inch and learned approximately one thousand new words and phrases while I was gone for three days.
Today, I’ve spent the entire day playing with Alex and dealing with ridiculous amounts of paperwork. I’ve printed forms, registered to have my fingerprints taken by the FBI, finally got Pitt to give me my financial aid, and received instructions for my surgery tomorrow. No food, fluids, alcohol, cigarettes, nothing, after midnight. I can’t go to the bathroom in the morning because I will be getting a pregnancy test (no, there is no way) and I must shower not once, but twice with anti-bacterial soap.
This whirlwind has been stressful; it’s been horrendous (I get unnecessarily stressed about exams) and wonderful (spending time with Sarah and her family).
Tomorrow I get to forget about it all. I will be knocked out, cut open, and when I wake up I will get to spend time doing absolutely nothing but resting. And right now? That sounds pretty nice.
But then it will be back to the grindstone. Finishing up all of the things I have to do for nursing school: more clearances, some vaccines and tests, more paperwork, applying for more loans, buying books, and spending as much time as humanly possible with my son.
He won’t be this cute forever. And I need to breathe it all in while I still can.