It seems ridiculous to think of it now, but when I first learned you were going to be a boy, I was a bit worried and apprehensive. I’m not really into cars, trucks, sports, bugs, or anything that is typically associated with raising a boy. And even though I know those ideas are all stereotypes (which normally I’m all about breaking) I still just felt unsure. What exactly would I do with a boy?
The answer (I quickly learned): fall in love.
And fall in love I did, in what seems almost instantly. I had a much easier time adjusting during my maternity leave with you than I did with your sister. Maybe it was because I now had some experience under my belt and it didn’t feel as overwhelming and stressful. But you were also just a more relaxed and easygoing baby. Everything felt easier and more natural. I had the same initial breastfeeding hurdles as I did your sister, but I overcame them more successfully than the first time around to the point that nursing became a breeze and something I thoroughly and immensely enjoyed with you. It was our bonding time in which not only did I not mind getting up in the middle of the night with you to nurse, but, dare I say it, actually enjoyed those half-awake moments of cuddling and falling back asleep together.
The months passed so much more quickly the second time around. You hit most of your growth and developmental milestones like crawling and walking at the average ages, but it was your not-s0-average achievements that left us awed. At barely 11 months, we noticed you were humming along note for note to full, entire songs on the radio. You knew your numbers and colors between 16-18 months and could recite them both in Spanish as well before you were two. You were both spelling and reading words by three (the first word among them being “pizza”) and you were a full-on confident reader shortly after turning 4. Each time we’d think “did he really just do x, y, z? Maybe it was just a fluke.”But then you’d do it again, and then again, and we’d realize, “wow, he really is doing such-and such already.”
And when you start doing something, boy, do you go for it. Your relatives have nicknamed you “Professor” due to your intensity and gusto over learning new things. Your preschool teachers have been printing out second-grade worksheets to help keep you engaged in class. A voracious reader, you wake up every weekend and read to yourself book after book until the rest of the house gets up. You clearly have developed a love and ear for music. In addition to memorizing and singing along to songs since you were a baby, you have also developed a fascination for instruments from the cello to the french horn. Your current obsession is animals, particularly jungle animals, and chief among them, the elephant. Any book you can get your hands on or tv documentary you can watch so that you can learn more about all of these interests makes your head just spin with happiness.
So far you are exhibiting a clear love for the academics. And perhaps you’ll be breaking stereotypes after all, because truthfully, one area you are not quite excelling in is sports.
You’ve tried gymnastics, soccer, baseball, and basketball and you’re just all elbows and knees out on the field/court. And yet my heart still just swells with love for you when watching you during these team sports and seeing the huge smile on your face. You don’t get frustrated or upset over dropping the ball every single time or constantly tripping over your feet. That you simply love just being there and participating and having a good time anyway is such a joy to watch.
So maybe you won’t be winning any ESPY awards in your lifetime, and you know what, maybe you won’t be an astrophysicist, either. That will be ok with me, because the one thing I know you will be is kind. You can’t stand to see anyone cry and are always the first to attempt to console anyone who is in distress. You don’t like seeing anyone upset and always offer your toys and your snacks to help someone else feel better. You’re already fiercely protective of me; any time you’ve seen me upset, you’ve gotten the most determined look on your face and doggedly announced “I’m going to tell (insert offending person) not to mess with my Mommy.”
When you aren’t busy standing tall trying to fight Mommy’s battles, you’ll still curl up small and let me hold and hug you. And when you stroke my face and coo “my sweetest mommy ever” to me, my heart just melts. You never fail to bring a smile to my face when you decide to treat me to the game that you’ve played with me for years in which you say: “I’m going to give you 16 (or 11, or 2, or 26) kisses” and then smack them out on my cheek. While I accept that you’re getting older (I have no choice!) these are the small things that I hope to hold on to for just a little bit longer.
I’d be remiss to paint you as an angel child; you most certainly have your trying moments when it seems you go out of your way to test every fiber of my being. But honestly, what I’ve learned in those moments is how to be more like you. You’re just so forgiving and understanding. When I’m having a bad day or not at my best, you’re always the first to offer me a hug and tell me not to cry. Even when I’m the one that is short and cross with you, you never even hesitate to forgive me and immediately say, “It’s ok Mommy, I still love you” (although you have at times been known to follow that with “Just don’t do it again.”)
A part of me wishes you could stay this sweet and this little forever, but there is another part of me that is looking forward to continuing to watch you grow up and all the things that are to come. Kindergarten is next, which you are already so excited about. And who knows, maybe somewhere down the line you will realize your current dreams of growing up to be a violinist, zookeeper, and a pizza chef, all at the same time. I don’t know what the next 5 years will bring, but if they’re anything like the last 5, then I know they won’t be any short of amazing. How I could have thought for a second that I wasn’t built to be a “boymom” is just beyond me. All I know now is that I whisper a prayer of thanks every single day for having received this blessing to learn just how wrong I was.
Mommy Loves You, Matthew