Kiddo, in the last month our good friend and neighbor, whom you know as Marlo’s mom and someday when you are talking will know as “Mrs. Armstrong” as in “yes ma’am, no ma’am, thank you ma’am. Can I get you another gin and tonic ma’am?” happened to link to out little site. She’s got a wee little following of her own and holy moses kiddo. Let’s just say a lot of people have seen your picture in the last few weeks. So I’m a little stressed about this month’s post. And I might have lost a lot of sleep over it while I tried to pretend that we didn’t have thirteen whole followers and eighteen comments. But we are glad they are here. I might have also lost that sleep because I had to re-ferberize you out of wanting some milk in the middle of the night. I had forgotten how stubborn you can be when you really want something because the first night you cried from 12.30 until 4.30 in the morning. It also happened to be the night of daylight savings so I can tell you first hand that nothing interesting happens at 2.00 in the morning on daylight saving’s night. Nothing.
But you are oblivious to these external changes and these months are starting to meld together in that there is a sameness to a lot of days with little breaks of excitement when you do something new. For example. you will now hold up your index finger when I ask you how old you are and say something akin to, “one.” I know you still have a bunch of growth spurts and developmental steps ahead but now that you’ve hit the big one – walking and you are slowly starting to talk the little things don’t seem as big. But of course they are to you. The fact that you can say apple and point to the banana and say “Bah!” on every single page of Goodnight Gorilla is, of course, a huge deal. You are thrilled with this new word apple and I don’t think I ever knew that it showed up in so many places. You will be watching Sesame Street or Caillou while I rush around doing the dishes and suddenly you will yell, “App!” and point to the screen and then repeat it over and over. And just last night you leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. A real kiss with pursed lips and a little smack. I thought it was specially for me until you also kissed the laundry detergent bottle this morning.
You are learning to press your parents’ limits. We have forbidden you to play with the fireplace because you have nearly succeeded in pulling the cover off of the fireplace. We don’t like that brass cover either so maybe you are just sending us a message to redecorate already. But now you sidle up to the fireplace and when we say, “Luke. No.” in our most impressive low parent voices you simply place your finger on the fireplace and then slowly smile at us. The smile says it all, “I’m not playing with it, I’m just touching it. You didn’t say I couldn’t simply touch it.” How is it that you are splitting hairs at seventeen months? It reminds me of the part in The House on Plum Creek when Laura and Mary roll in the haystacks after their Pa said they couldn’t jump off the haystacks.
Those are the funny moments. The not so funny moments are when you throw all your food on the floor while looking me in the eye and laugh. And then I get you out of your high chair and you proceed pick up the food you just dropped on the floor and throw it over the baby gate. Those are the times when it is all I can do not to start screaming not because you haven’t eaten – I’m getting used to your hunger strikes – but because it seems so disrespectful. I know you don’t really get that I breaded those chicken strips and then fried them to perfection just for you. This is too much to ask of you, I suppose, but you clearly get that you are doing something wrong and you are getting pleasure out of making me want to cry. Those are moments when I do not like being a parent. And you won’t get that until you are a parent.
In school you have moved up from the baby’s Honey Bee room where you were clearly the biggest kid on the block – as evidenced by your class picture populated by seven babies and then you, lounging in the middle of the group looking very cool and grown up. In the toddler’s Tator Tot room you eat your snacks at a little table with all the other one year olds and take your nap on a cot. I am not sure I can conjure up anything more completely adorable than you sleeping on a cot. I keep asking your teachers to take a picture of this phenomenon because I cannot wrap my head around the fact that you sleep somewhere without bars and you don’t just get up and walk around the room.
Now that you are with bigger kids you are coming home with more battle scars. The other week you came home with a cut under your eye that made you look very badass. Apparently some kid scratched you when you took his toy. I tried to find some sympathy for you but honestly, you took the kid’s toy and you shouldn’t have done that. It is a funny thing having a boy. There is this part of me that wants to protect you from everything, even from yourself, as you attempt to go down the stairs without me or try to crawl through the dog door but then I think maybe you have to learn how to stand up for yourself. Would feel the same way if I had a girl? And then I wonder sometimes if I don’t protect you enough. Are you scared at play group sometimes because some kid has tried to pull your hair? I hope not.
Your other big news is that we moved you downstairs into your new room; the room that you will most likely occupy until you leave for college. It is bigger than your old room and I think you like the space because you spend a lot of time running around it. I was a little bit worried that we might have missed the window for you to transition to a new space and that we would have to wait until you were thirteen but you fell asleep that first night in your new room without missing a beat. So now your father and I have the entire upstairs to ourselves again in the evenings and let me tell you, it’s a little strange. I didn’t think I would miss your presence, your little sleeping presence just across the hallway, but I do. I have this overwhelming urge to go and check on you in the evenings because you seem so far away.
This last week has been really difficult. Your dad has been in Hawaii for work all week and it’s been just the two of us. You are growing four new teeth at the same time, are on the brink of another ear infection and have generally been in a contrary mood. You even had a breakdown at Little Gym, which never happens. This has been more than a little challenging for me, someone who often times has very little patience with motherhood as it is. I’ve really had to look hard to find the good and charming things about you. I drive around with Kanye West’s Stronger on repeat even though most of the lyrics are not an anthem to parenthood. However, “that what don’t kill me will only make me stronger,” strikes a chord when you throw your fifteenth tantrum of the day.
I know this sounds terrible, but it’s true. There is this wonderful video online about being a mom and there is a line that says, “Motherhood . . . it’s the best there is, and sometimes it’s the worst.” The whole video makes me cry every time but that line runs through my head many times a day because it is so true. Raising you has been the hardest thing I have ever tackled in my life. So I wake up everyday mustering my wits and I keep coming back to something you recently started doing when I get you dressed in the mornings. After I have wrestled you into a diaper, pulled a shirt over your head and managed to get some pants on you, I stand you up and you wrap your little arms around my arm to balance as I put your shoes on. It is such a tiny brief moment in the day but it never fails to make me smile; those tiny skinny arms wrapped around mine. It gives me the strength to go on and tackle everything else.