As I ponder what this new year and future years will bring with this new tiny person in my life, here is a letter to my son who right now can't even say "Mama," but who I hope will have a lot to say and do in this world.
As she introduced me, I took a seat on the floor in the front of the room with my guitar. My son grabbed his guitar and sat down next to me, so close that our guitars banged into each other. I moved a couple of inches away from him to give myself some room, but he inched toward me.
"Nicholas, did you do this?" I exclaimed. He smiled and nodded. "It's fantastic! I love it. This part looks like the Empire State Building," I said, perhaps a little too eagerly. He peered at it closely, then shrugged. "Maybe."
Will this sweet boy who often rests his blonde head on my shoulder someday shut me out? Will the very sight of my face and the sound of my voice make his stomach churn? Will we become strangers? Will the teenage version of my son despise me?
Here was the ultimate mom test. Was I the real deal? At this crucial moment, probably the most important one of my life, my mind had shut down, and I'd lost my voice. I'd expected to perform much better. This had been a D-minus at best.
Your gender does not define you. Neither does your job or car or bank account. Be kind and brave, be a good friend and a hard worker and treat everyone with respect -- those are the qualities that will define you.
I'm constantly witnessing ways in which my toddler son is getting less than his older sister did. And yet, despite the outward appearance of deprivation, I'm discovering that the things he's missing aren't as important as I thought.
Seven is the number of pounds I lost in my first trimester with my son. Nine pounds was the estimate for my son's birth weight; the doctors thought he would be too big for my body. Forty-four pounds is what my 5-year-old son weighs today.
In my vision, there were tea parties and tutus. There were hours spent quietly reading on the couch together. There were braids and pigtails. There was shopping and giggling. There was peace and love and joy and... and... peace. Then, I had boys.
I can teach my boys to be safe. Safe with themselves, safe with their bodies, safe with others and their bodies. I will teach my boys that they are not entitled, that they are not owed, that they have the power to wait. To stop. To save.
My love for you is not conditional, not connected to the outcome of your life. I will feel proud and I will feel disappointed. I will be certain and I will be afraid. Underneath all of this life we are trying so damn hard to get right, my love for you runs steady and unchanging.
It isn't about teaching them their first words, but about being their voice when they can't speak for themselves. It isn't about cheering them on when they take their first steps, but about walking alongside them no matter what their journey entails
I've accepted all of the milestones and markers that "growing up" bring. I've photographed them, saved them in plastic tubs, rejoiced over some and cried over others. But for some reason, this birthday just hits me harder than most.
Sure, intuitively you realize that the time will come someday when you are compelled to release all that you have held fast to for so many years. Practically, you cannot prepare yourself for how it all goes down.