Friday, March 16, 2012

Dear Four-Year-Old Son

Dear Four-Year-Old Son,

Today is the last day that you will show four fingers when asked how old you are.  Could it be that half a decade has passed already since you came into this world?  Years ago, my longing to become a mom was finally answered when your sister and you came to being.   I've come so far from that stage of my life that I sometimes have to take a good look back to realize how lucky I was to have had two miracles, as well as to see how far we've all come.

I have a picture of us on our mantel, just you and me.  You were about 8 weeks old.  Our eyes were locked on each other's; I was talking to you, and you were answering back with your knowing gaze.  You were telling me, I'm full and happy, Mama, and I know that you fed me.  It's amazing how our eyes talk.  It's wordless, powerful, emotional, and stated.  We've perfected our communication with our eyes over the years.  We read each other with absolute precision.  My eyes tell you how much I love you, and your eyes are my World.

When I look into your eyes
It's like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
There's so much they hold

Daddy and I hear about other babies who are easy-going, sleep through the night straightaway, or are just content with their lives.  Then we ask ourselves, why were our babies were so extremely the opposite?  You had reflux, making your early days painful for you and sleepless for us.  You nursed for 22 months, which meant I didn't sleep soundly at night for longer than that.  You were so attached to me that we were practically joined at the hips.  There was a time when I couldn't walk three feet away from you without you howling.  I sat with you in Toddler School from September until March before you were ready to say goodbye.  You required help with so many things not because you couldn't do them, but because you weren't ready to do them yourself and wanted me to do them for you.  In time, I've come to realize that you just needed more time and more help from me in order to become the person you are growing up to be.  You needed my assurance, my understanding, and my patience so that you can confidently carry on your own.  You knew what you needed, and you taught me how to be a mother who does not have to conform to the standards of others.  You taught me to be a better mother than I set out to be. 

And just like them old stars
I see that you've come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

But it always had to be meI had to be the one to wake you up, dress you, brush your teeth, feed you, put on your shoes, and -- for crying-out-loud -- buckle you into your car seat and unbuckle you to get out.  You wouldn't allow anyone else to do any of those things for you.  How often would I throw my arms up in the air in frustration and just resign in the unfairness of it all!  I wasn't given one moment of rest, one moment to be relieved from duty, one moment to have someone take over for me.  I wanted to hide; I ran out of patience; I wanted to give up.  But then I looked into your eyes and I remembered.  Your eyes told me that I was your World. 

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up

But as time goes by, I know that you won't stay in my World forever.  You go to the bathroom by yourself now; you eat by yourself most of the time now; you dress yourself now; you can shower by yourself now; you even turn on the TV and select a show to watch all by yourself now.  There are times now when you slip into your own World to enjoy some me-time, when you play with action figures and superhero sounds.  Whoosh.  Boom.  Ka-pow!  I love to watch you from afar and see your imagination at work.  Every now and then you'd look for me, just to know I'm still there with you.  The good guy fights the bad guy, and they're having fun, you'd tell me.  While our Worlds still overlap, I feel more at ease about your attachment and its timely progression towards your own path.    

And when you're needing your space
To do some navigating
I'll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

Today I see a beautiful pond on a sunny day.  I find a smooth, polished rock; I toss it into the water.  The moment the rock hits the water is the moment you came into being.  The ripples that the toss create are both our Worlds overlapped together.  Dense at first, but fading with time.  Eventually, you will look for me with less frequency and urgency, and be in your own World with more confidence and direction...  But even when we no longer see ripples, our Worlds will still overlap, however tiny an area, since without barriers, these ripples go on to infinity.

'Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We've got a lot to learn
God knows we're worth it

This is what I've learned, and it is what you have taught me. 

No, I won't give up

Along the ripples are tiny, microscopic moments that act as reminders.  A birthday, a traumatic incident, a nostalgic memory, or a peaceful day can all bring to light why -- amidst our busy and chaotic days -- I must follow your lead and be the mother that you need me to be.  I'm still looking up.

Dear Son, I cannot wait to see you unfold that thumb and show that you are five-years-old tomorrow!  

With all my love,


  1. You made me cry! That was so sweet and powerful.

    He is lucky to have you as his mom, and it is great that you will let him soar when he is ready to fly.

  2. Awww, Laura, I'm sure it's because you can relate to the maternal sentiments! Writing has been so therapeutic for me; it makes me think about the whys and the hows and makes me more introspective than I would be otherwise. I feel like I have become more patient with the kiddos after writing pieces like this. All of my internal struggles about helping him with things was because I didn't want him to become too dependent or spoiled. But when I look at him in the outside world (ie school), he is so independent and mature. So I decided I have nothing to worry about.

    I'm having so much fun baking! 3 dozen (plus 1 dozen failed) cupcakes plus a small cake. Will be icing them tomorrow. Wish me luck!

  3. Beautiful letter to your son. Each birthday is bittersweet for me. Yes, I'm happy they are progressing in their growth, but sad because they are getting farther away from the little 'babies' I once cradled in my arms.

    Hope you and son have a happy birthday.

  4. Thanks, Janna! It's crazy how five years passed so quickly. And yes, the sad part is, there is no going back! Thanks for hopping over to read my "main" blog.

  5. okay stop it, you're making me cry and i didn't even get through the whole thing!! How we love our sons.... and one of mine just came home from college a day early as a surprise! First question, "what is there to eat" , wait, is that even a question? They are all here! It goes soooo fast!

  6. Helen! There *is* something special about mommies and sons, isn't there!? I hope you did get through the whole thing, though! Thanks for reading!

  7. Oh that is so sweet! I LOVE the photo of him holding out his fingers. I wish I had photos of the wee ones like that. Love it love it love it. And you? That is the sweetest letter to him, and I know you'll keep doing what he needs to do to succeed. Go you!

  8. Thanks, Michelle. It was a long hard road to get to this point (for me), I'm sure you are able to relate as a mommy. But at least we got here. Hindsight is always smarter. We just keep trying to do our best, don't we? =)

  9. Just beautiful, mama. My big girl just turned 5, too. It's so crazy to be able to remember everything about them as babies and to see the awesome, capable people they're becoming. Thank you for linking up. I loved your letter.

    1. Thank you! There are kiddos things I forget quickly, and then there are things that I'll never, ever forget. Yes, the transformation from babies to blossoming individuals is quite fascinating, yet bittersweet, at the same time. Thank you, Amanda, for reading my letter!

  10. Happy birthday to him! I'm so glad you were willing to stay with him to nurse him through the things he wasn't yet ready for. He will be stronger in the end because of it.

    1. I think the issue I had to get over was not 'babying' him. But then I just had to trust my instincts and go with it. In hindsight, he just needed more time. Thank you, Jessie, for saying that he will be strong in the end. I really appreciate that!

  11. This is so beautiful. You have such a way with words. I love how you embrace the moment when the picture of you two were taken, and how you encourage him to do things himself, even though deep down you want to be the one to help him. It's so cool that he's a St. Patty's Day baby too! :)

    1. Oh and I love that Jason Mraz song! :)

    2. Good eye for catching the St. Patty Day bday! Cute now, but a mom's nightmare come college time, I think. Love this song--it was the last song of the concert and the whole crowd was singing it. Oh, it was grand.

      Anyway, thanks for reading, as always!