It seems ridiculous to think of it now but when I first learned you were going to be a boy, I was filled with worry and apprehension. I’m not really into cars, dirt, sports, bugs, or pretty much 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 couldn’t shake the feeling of being so unsure. What exactly would I do with a boy?
The answer: fall in love.
And fall in love I did, in what seemed to be your very first instant of life. There I was, stuck on my back in the hospital bed, twisting side-to-side in an unfocused stupor, unable to efficiently focus and breathe, teeth chattering uncontrollably from an ineffective epidural. But, in what seemed a far-away voice a million miles away, I somehow honed in on my OB shouting at me to “reach down and get your baby!” And without hesitation, in what can only be described of as a completely surreal and out-of-body experience, I stopped shaking, snapped upright and immediately bolted my arms for you. From the moment I grasped your slimy, slithering shoulders and lifted you out, an indescribable electric thrill coursed through my fingertips. And I knew: I Was Done. I was all yours. You were all mine. And I could not have been anymore in love.
With you, I had a much easier time adjusting during our maternity leave than I did with your sister. Maybe it was because I now had some experience under my belt and so it no longer felt as overwhelming and frightening. But you were also just a more relaxed and easygoing baby. Finally, everything felt more natural and less stressful. And even though I had the same initial breastfeeding hurdles as I did with your sister, I was this time able to overcome them much more quickly and with such success that nursing you became a breeze. It became so enjoyable that not only did I not mind but I actually looked forward to your night wakings. For in those moments, I would whisk you from the nursery crib and snuggle with you in the guestroom bed, alternating between sniffing and stroking your fluffy curls while you blissfully nursed; your small body curving into mine as we both drifted softly back into slumber.
I cherished those quiet and still nights because, in the light of the day, it also felt as if this time around the months were flying by much quicker! And with each passing day, you continued to astound us with your growth. Your developmental milestones like crawling and walking appeared around the expected timelines but it was your not-so-average markers that would often leave us agape. At 11 months we listened to you hum along note-for-note to multiple entire full-length songs on the radio. At 16 months you knew all your numbers and colors and between 20-22 months could recite both categories in Spanish as well. You surprised us daily during your third year with the amount of words you were spelling (the first word among them being “pizza”) And on your 4th birthday, you were already a full-on confident reader. Each time you’d wow us with some new advancement, we’d glance questioningly at one another and say “Did he really just do that? Maybe it was just a fluke”. But then you would do it again, and then do it yet again, letting us know without question that you were not one to be doubted!
And when you start doing anything, boy, do you go for it! Your relatives have nicknamed you “Professor” in response to your enormous intensity and gusto in learning new things. Your preschool teachers are currently printing out second-grade worksheets to help keep you engaged in class. On weekends, you lay in bed and devour cover-to-cover book after book after book until the rest of the house finally wakes. You have clearly developed an ear and appreciation for music. In addition to you singing along to the car radio when you were but only a wee babe, you are now also fascinated with instruments with your favorites being the French horn and the cello. Your other current obsession is animals, particularly jungle animals, and chief among those being the elephant. To present to you any fact-filled book or TV documentary on any of your favorite subjects is to quite literally see your head spin (if not darn near explode) with happiness.
You are also exhibiting a 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 while out on the field you are just a hot tangled mess of errant elbows and knobby knees. And as I watch from the sidelines, my heart still swells with love and pride. Because in those moments, you don’t get frustrated or upset by your constant tripping over of feet or dropping of the ball (which you do most every. single. time 😞) Instead, you jump right up, throw a glance my way with a huge grin plastered on your face, and then break into an erratic run to retrieve the ball (and in so doing, will usually fall again!) But its no matter, because you simply love just being there and participating and having a good time anyway. And to bear witness to such pure joy is a delight in and of itself.
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 for that matter. That will all be ok with me, because the one thing I know you will be is kind. To any relative or friend you encounter in tears or distress, you are quick to offer hugs and even your favorite toys and snacks in a sincere attempt to console. And you’re already fiercely protective of me; any time you see me upset, you’ll get the most determined look on your face and doggedly announce “I’m going to tell (insert offending person) not to mess with my Mommy.”
When you aren’t busy standing tall to fight Mommy’s battles, you’ll still curl up small in my lap to let me hold and hug you. My heart just melts when you stroke my face and coo to me “you’re my sweetest mommy ever”. And it’s always a delight whenever you treat me to the game (that you’ve played with me since you first began talking) in which you will say: “Mommy, I’m going to give you 16 (or 11, or 2, or 26) kisses” and then count aloud and loudly smack the kisses out one-by-one on my cheek. You are growing so quickly into a Big Boy now, but it is the moments like these that I treasure and hope to retain 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. And I do mean every. But honestly, what I’ve learned in those moments is simply how to be more like you. You’re just such a forgiving and understanding child! When I’m not at my best, you’re the first to offer a hug and tell me that all will be ok. And in those regretful moments when you find my temperament short and cross, you never 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 would stay this sweet and cute and little forever. And then there is another part of me that is already looking forward to continuing to watch you grow 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 indeed realize your dream careers of violinist, zookeeper, and pizza chef (concurrently!) I may not know exactly 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 even a second that I wasn’t built to be a “boymom” is now laughable and so beyond me. All I know now is how grateful I am to have discovered just how wrong I was and how very lucky I am that I get to be your Mom.
Mommy Loves You, Matthew!