On the eve of his first birthday, I went through his tiny baby clothes and heaved profound guttural sobs over the loss of my little newborn son.
I remember him seeming so big compared to his first onesies, and how tragic I felt that I’d never get to hold my snorgly sweet-smelling wee little bundle of joy again.
I thought I’d have a similar experience this year for his birthday, but it must be that the bright light of what’s to come vanquishes the sadness about what’s gone.
For sure, there are moments like the maple syrup incident, the nightly meltdowns about going upstairs to bed, and the roadside pants-pooping. It’s not like parenting is for the weak of heart — or stomach.
There are the days where I’ve been yelled at, peed on, and am on my hands and knees picking rice off the floor while dinner-covered hands are still smearing everything in sight.
If I’m out and about with him and try to carry on a conversation with an adult at the same time, I’m fairly certain I don’t say anything intelligent because I’m trying to mentally stay one step ahead of him so he doesn’t hurt himself, hurt someone else, break something, make a mess, blow something up, and so on.
But all that means that he and I are interacting more than when he was just a drooling hip accessory, and the most notorious “incidents” are lifelong stories we’ll tell; juicy family lore in the making.
Besides, they’re balanced out by other moments.
Moments like him singing happy birthday, one of his favorite songs, to anyone he feels affectionate toward. Like how much he loved the “up high” Ferris Wheel at Magic Forest. Like how he takes his time and says “excuse me” on slides when older, bolder kids barrel past him.
The squinting, showing-the-teeth smile he discovered when Auntie Erika asked him to grin for a photo. Him kissing my parents’ dog Heidi on the nose and sharing his spaghetti with her.
Moments like him chasing ducks at Crandall Park, asking Daddy to play blocks with him, and walking his dolly down Morgan Avenue in a pink stroller. Him yelling “DarkStar!” (the name of his Uncle Andrew’s hot air balloon, which he loves dearly) at an empty blue sky, willing it to appear.
Moments like when he puts his head on my shoulder — albeit a tactic he knows to use when he doesn’t want me to put him down for bed, because I love head-on-the-shoulder so much I’ll just hold him that way forever.
While I do feel wistful about the first days I held my tiny little boy in my arms, I am inspired daily. It’s all I can do to outwit him, outrun him and stay up later than him. Motherhood is great fun, despite its challenges.
I can’t imagine an age less terrible than two.