Sunday, May 11, 2014

A letter to my first born on Mother's Day

Dear Walter,

You are asleep now--it's been a busy day. This whole Mother's Day weekend has been busy for you, with lots of walking outside in the (finally!) beautiful weather, making me breakfast in bed (cinnamon rolls, scrapple and tea,) eating and dancing and listening intently to Spanish guitar at the cultural festival, procuring and playing and playing and playing with an ice cream bucketful of Hot Wheels (best garage sale purchase, ever,) blowing bubbles, playing with Umma and Baba, baking cupcakes (chocolate wacky cake,) and making frosting (the best vanilla buttercream I've ever tasted,) eating cupcakes, using the potty and wearing underpants, dancing to some Irish fiddle music on the folk show, learning how to spit when you brush your teeth ... whew.

You and me and Sally this morning
You had a lot of fun this weekend, and I had a lot of fun being with you. You are two-and-half-years-old and very handsome, with wavy blonde hair, big blue eyes and your Daddy's incredibly long eyelashes. You are thoughtful; sometimes pensive. You love to sing and will often just spontaneously break out into song. "Don't tell me that it's morning," you sang to me on Saturday morning, "Just keep the curtains drawn!" "If you keep the good times rolling, I'm your boy, I'm your boy!" "It's alright to cry, crying gets the sad out of you." "And the grand facade, so soon will burn. Without a noise. Without my pride. I reach out from the inside." "Take my hand, take my whole life, too. 'Cause I can't help, falling in love with you ..."

There is so much to love about you, Walter Paul.  I love your singing and your dancing. I love the way you are usually so gentle and sweet with your sister, and how you love to make her smile and laugh, and how you taught her how to sign "more" this weekend. She loves to learn from you! I love the way you talk to yourself when you're playing, imagining conversations between you and your King Friday puppet, or between Red and Mokey fraggle. I love watching you run and skip when you're happy. I love baking with you .... you are so good at measuring out the ingredients! Most of all, though, I just love you because you are you.  You are my Scooter, and my love for you goes way beyond the way you look, or the way you act, or the things you do.

And that's a really good thing, because sometimes the things you do, these days, put you and me at odds. I've struggled a lot with how much to write about this.  Most people don't have any real memories of their lives before age 4 or so, so I wonder how wise it is to record these "terrible twos" moments in detail.  It's not your behavior I'm hoping you'll forget, though; it's mine. I get pretty angry, sometimes. I don't think I'm angry in an unusual way ... I think it's pretty normal for parents to get angry and to show it more than they'd like to.  And someday, if you have kids of your own and I'm still living, I'd like to have some very real conversations with you about what it's like to be mad at your beloved little kids.  I want to tell this future-hypothetical-father version of you, "It's OK, Walter.  It'll be OK.  You're human, and you have feelings, and you're doing the best you can.  Keep trying to do better, and to let your kids know that you love them no matter what."

Here's how I know that you and I are OK and, further more, we are going to be OK:

... the way you lean against me, or easily take my hand, or give me a hug just because.
... the way you greet me at the end of the school/work day with a joyful "Mama!" and a hug.  The way we both look for each other and look forward to that moment.
... the way you study me, looking in my eyes, and then smile. Sometimes we make eye contact across a room and smile at each other, and I realize we communicate a lot without talking, you and me.

We communicate pretty well with talking, too, although sometimes words fail us. We're working on it--both of us are. About a month (or more?) ago you asked me to play Legos with you in your room and I said yes. You headed into your room and I followed, making a very quick stop in the kitchen to grab a can of selzer on my way. When you got to your Lego table and looked back, I wasn't right there. You let out a little scream of frustration. I was just coming through the door, saying, "I'm right here!" and you said, "Mama, sometimes I need you and you are not there."

And I said, "I just stopped to get a selzer!"

But I know what you meant, and I'm proud that you could put it into words like that. That's pretty remarkable communicating, Walter.  And it's true. There are times when you need me and I'm not there.  Sometimes it's because I mostly take care of your sister and your Daddy mostly takes care of you ... that's just how it works for us, especially because I'm still Sally's main source of food. We're trying to change that up as much as we can, your Daddy and I, but we've got into the habit of dividing things up that way, so it can be hard (and hard on you and Sally, too, because you've gotten used to it) to make those changes. Sometimes I'm not there because I'm at work.  Sometimes I'm not there because I'm too slow to react or to realize that you need me and what you need me to do. I'm still learning how to be a mom, and because you are my oldest, you are my main teacher.

I wish I could always be right there, the moment you need me, and do exactly what you need me to do. Every parent falls short of that, though.  I don't know that most kids realize that about their parents at two-and-a-half, but you have always been very advanced.

You and I are going to go through times of trouble in our relationship.  I am almost positive that this current troublesome time will not be the last. I promise you that I will always do my best to be there when you need me, to be gentle with you, to help you if I can. When I fall short and let you down in these ways, I hope you will still know and trust that I love you with all my heart.  And God, who is always there in your times of need, who will never let you down, will help us get through these rough patches, forgive each other, and forgive ourselves.

I love you, Walter.  I am so proud, and glad, and grateful to be,

Your Mama

1 comment:

3d8th said...

If parenting isn't hard, you aren't doing it right. keep up the good work!