You Say It’s Your Birthday

To my dearest, darlingest, most fabulous son, my Eli.

Two years ago, today, we were meeting for the first time.

And now I have to admit something to you.  Way before you were even a twinkle in your father’s eye, a maybe, an idea, way waaaay back in the day, when your father and I decided to get married, I heard a lot of advice about what it’s like to really love someone.  To commit for all time.  And over and over, I heard that to really love someone means loving them because of their flaws, rather than in spite of them.  That to curse internally every time your partner squeezed the toothpaste incorrectly meant that you were making a mistake, and that you needed to look harder, to find someone whose toothpaste technique made your heart sing, I suppose.

I suspect those people, with all of their well intentioned advice, hadn’t been picking your father’s socks up off the bedroom floor every morning for ten years, but nevertheless, it made me a little nervous, because the truth is that I am not the type to love someone because of, rather than in spite of.  I am good at spotting flaws.  Not so good at letting them go.

And then you were born.

You are smart, and funny.  You don’t have a lot of words, but the ones you do have, you use with unabashed delight.  When we don’t understand you, when we don’t follow your orders immediately, you get louder and louder and louder, until you are yelling “DOWN!!!!” with all your tiny might, pointing, and screaming, and utterly astonished that we just aren’t getting it, so maybe you’ll just get LOUDER until we do.

You are stubborn, and willful.  You don’t like to sleep, but you love to snuggle.  You are passionate about trucks, and things that move, and you shriek with delight when you spot a train.  You love music, in any form, and you’ll bounce to piped in grocery store tunes or a car stereo blaring.  You’ll dance in the street to a rhythm banged out on a street light with a stick, or to the washing machine as it squeaks our clothes clean.

You’ve been you since the moment you were born.  You hated hats on day one, and you hate them now, and you’ve got a dresser drawer full of bear hats and cowboy hats and newsboy caps, and  they all go unworn.

You love the cat with a special kind of baby boy love, and your favorite christmas present this year was a picture of our friends cat, and you carried it around for days, kissing it and  hugging it, crumpled, in your arms.

You love to take all the pajamas out of your dresser drawer, but you never put them back.

You understand every single thing we say to you.

You love brushing your teeth more than anything else in the world, and you beg to do it all day long.

You sleep with a large stuffed turtle, but you hate blankets, and when you sleep between us, your dad and me, you kick off our blankets, all night long.

You love to go on walks, but only away.  You hate having to turn around and come home.

When you run, you throw your arms up in the air, and squeal, and twist down the street, loving running with everything you’ve got, not ever afraid you might trip and fall.

New things and new people make you nervous, but you always come around.

You love the refrigerator, and you often demand that we lift you up so you can stand inside it and point to things until you decide what you want to eat.  Often times it’s something you’ve rejected mere minutes before.

From the moment you were born, you’ve done things big. Gulped at life.  You would nurse at high intensity, as fast as you could, and then you were done.  Now you’ll grab your bottle, slam back great draughts of milk, or cram whole piles of noodles in your mouth, and then, just as quickly, shove them away.

You think farts are hilarious.  We call them toots in our house, so now you’ll announce “teet” with a little giggle whenever you can.

Your father taught you to say “zombie squirrel” yesterday, and now it’s one of your favorite things to say.

You love your dad like nothing I’ve ever seen.  It’s your goal in life to impress him, and for him you’ll pull out all the stops .  When you wake him up in the morning, you pop your little head up, pry open his eyelid, peer into his face, and brightly announce “HI!” over and over again until he says “Hi” back.

I know I complain a lot here, about sleepless nights and teething and how attached you are to us, about how you never leave me alone, about how sometimes the whining seeps into my brain and makes it impossible to think any thoughts beyond “please for the love of god make it stop” but really, I want you to know, and this isn’t just birthday melodrama.  I want you to know that to me, not in spite of it all, but because of it all – to me, you are absolutely perfect.

And someday maybe someone else will see these things, these fears or struggles you have, and they may want to tell you how to be better –  that you shouldn’t be afraid of change.  That you shouldn’t love so much or hold on so tightly.  That you shouldn’t give such wet kisses or yell so loudly.  Maybe you shouldn’t be so stubborn.  Maybe you shouldn’t  stay up all night long, dancing in the living room.

But I will always think these things about you are your best things, my favorite things,  the most wonderful things about you.  I know I complain, but when you don’t sleep? When you want another hug?  When you wake up at night and have to come snuggle next to me? The truth is, I don’t really mind.

My life has been changed forever because you are in it, and yet I cannot imagine it without you.  Every day I look down at you next to me and I think that you are exactly who you were meant to be, exactly who I always thought you were.   I wake you up in the morning and I am delighted to see your face, every single day.  And every minute that passes I think “oh, yes.  That’s who you are.  Of course it is!”

And I will love you until the end of time.

Happy Birthday.

Love, Mama


16 Responses

  1. Happy Birthday, E!

  2. Your words are beautiful. What a lucky little boy. I love reading your blog. You are so honest and are an inspiration to me. Thank you. Happy Birthday, Eli!

  3. How very sweet. Happy birthday to that lovely little guy.

  4. Happy Birthday Eli! You sure do have an awesome mom.

  5. “I am good at spotting flaws. Not so good at letting them go. And then you were born.”

    I wish I didn’t, but I totally get this. I wanted a girl so badly but I can definitely say now that I am so happy to be in this “moms of boys” sisterhood!

    Happy Birthday Eli!

  6. That was so sweet! Happy Birthday Eli!

  7. Happy Birthday, Eli!

    Keep that love deep, deep in your heart, son. Remember it on even the darkest of days… otherwise known as adolescence. You’ll need it to remind yourself of how awesome your mommy is and to remind her that you remember how much she has always, and will always, loved you.

  8. Two! Happy Birthday Eli!

    It’s so sad, having a kid who won’t wear hats. I know the pain.

  9. This is so lovely. The perfect way to celebrate your little guy. Happy Birthday!

  10. So sweet. Happy birthday to your kiddo.

  11. Happy Belated Birthday Eli!

    I hope it was wonderful!

  12. Happy birthday, Eli! You hang on to that love of tooth brushing- it’ll make your life loads better! =)

  13. If anyone ever asks me why I want to be a mother someday, I will point them to this perfect post. *happy sigh*

    Happy birthday, Eli!

  14. Happy Belated Birthday little guy!

    I love reading stuff like this because even though I don’t have kids yet, it reminds me how much I mean to my mom – even when she drives me crazy. I have to remember that I was once helpless and she saw me through it…now that I’m not helpless anymore, I need to be more patient when she tries to guide. Thanks for that!

  15. Ah, another mid-February birthday boy. Happy 2nd, Eli! You are so lucky to have a mama that adores you this much.

  16. happy happy HAPPY birthday, gorgeous little guy!

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