Tuesday, March 30, 2010

All Things New

For many people, the transition from one year to the next is a really big deal. They celebrate the holiday with New Year's parties, dropped balls in Times Square, black-eyed peas, a day off from work, and endless resolutions to make a fresh start in the coming months. Lots of folks find January 1st to be the perfect time to reflect on the past and move forward with purpose.

For me, however, New Year's Day never really feels that significant. We're still saddled with all the problems of the previous year. The weather is still gray and we're still buried under mountains of snow and ice. We wear the same heavy sweaters and breathe the same dry, stale, recycled indoor air most of the time. A new number on the calendar just doesn't thrill me in the midst of winter's tedious monotony.

In my life, the "new year" really begins in March. When those first bulbs peek tentatively our of the cold ground. When we finally throw open the windows and breathe in the warm, fresh air. When I leave my down coat in the closet and walk outside in a t-shirt for the first time in months.

Since I've become a mother, I think I feel the relief of spring even more acutely. After months of trying to keep my boys busy inside and endless hours of arduous bundling and un-bundling them in coats, hats, boots, and mittens for even the shortest trip outside our door, just watching them run out to our backyard in short-sleeves and bare feet feels like indulgent luxury. Both Jonah and Eli were born in the spring, so maybe their entry into the world at this lovely time of year has indelibly reinforced my own feelings of this season as one of birth and life.

In the spring, every new morning brings a surprise for all of us: a new flower peeking out of our garden, birds building a nest in the backyard tree, neighbors finally emerging from their homes after so many months of seclusion. And ever on a deeper level, I'm feeling a shift to a new season of life for our little family. Eli's second birthday a few weeks ago means I'm no longer the mother of a baby, which I find simulaneously thrilling and heartbreaking. I'm noticing that the boys are growing increasingly independent; now, they'll entertain each other in the backyard for impressive chunks of time, unheard of last fall. Jonah and Eli dug in the garden with me this afternoon, and I was shocked to find them both truly helpful. Jonah will be finishing up preschool in the next couple of months, moving on to kindergarten in the fall. He stays up late on Tuesdays with me now to watch American Idol; we snuggle up on the couch and dissect every performance like buddies, so grown up is he. And all around me, the growth of the natural world reflects the budding emergence of these amazing little men. Even in the midst of the fickle Colorado springtime weather (65 one day, a foot of snow the next), the buds on the trees and the boys in my house persist in their plucky new growth. I breathe in the warm air, and thank God for spring.

Happy New Year 2010!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Beautiful Boy: A letter to Eli on his 2nd birthday

Eli at just 6 months old... my how you've grown!

Several months ago, I posted a letter I wrote to Jonah as he was starting preschool. I wanted to capture a particular moment in time in Jonah's life as well as my own, a snapshot of who we both were at that moment of our mother/child journey. I received lots of encouraging feedback about that post, but several people wondered about when Eli might have his own letter, too. I figure that his 2nd birthday is as good a time as any to attempt to wrap my pen (or keybard, as it may be) around my unique and wonderful youngest boy.

To my amazing Eli,

It was just two years ago this morning that you made your grand entrance into this world, already looking robust and powerful, not much like a typical newborn at all. Even then, I knew you had such a strong spirit, just brimming with life and all its potential. In those early days, I struggled so much in my role as your mother, constantly mourning the fact that I just didn't have more hands, more hours in the day, and a bigger lap to keep both you and Jonah happy. I recalled the hours of entranced gazing at each other that Jonah and I had experienced when he was so tiny, but as an overwhelmed new mom of two, I was heartbreakingly aware that you and missed out on many of those quiet moments. The middle of the night feedings were our time... just you and me and the glorious moonlight shining in the windows, completely at peace. I think I treasured to those quiet moments with you all the more, knowing just how fleeting they would be.

At less than three months, you discovered that you could roll over on your own, and nothing has stopped you from your fierce explorations in the days since. You are child who is into everything! Your little hands just MUST reach out to touch it all, from the contents of all the kitchen cupboards to the pigtails of poor unsuspecting little girls. You climb everything you can, you hate to be carried these days, and you rarely walk; this little man needs to run! You insisted on feeding yourself at only 10 months old, urging to me grab the stain remover and just prepare for disaster - on your clothes, on the walls, on the floor. You love all things gooey or messy or disgusting. Last summer, you sauntered up to your dad in the back yard with a little brown dog turd in your hand and proudly proclaimed, "Poop!". You couldn't have looked happier.

You adore music, and I've quickly learned that with you, the proper musical accompaniment can quickly diffuse even the most difficult of situations. You play a mean air guitar, and you dance, well, like the lip-biting little white man that you are. For the past few months, you have been fully obsessed with Ziggy Marley's "Give a Little Love". You'll beg, "More, love!" over and over and you zealously belt out all you can with your caveman speech skills: "Give... love. Have... hope. Make... world... better. Try... more. Harder... b'fore. Do... t'gether.... Sing it!". You little voice is amazingly sweet, particularly for such a boisterous little man. I wish I could just bottle it up and play it back when the world seems hard, because that voice is just pure joy, plain and simple.

You are fiercely independent, much more so than your older brother. For Jonah in his first few years of life, I was the center of the universe... Jonah wanted all mommy, only feeling truly safe when I was within his sight. But you, my little E, are so different. You are brave and bold and rarely clingy. For you, I am a more of a harbor, a safe place to return when the big kids are mean or Mr. Noodle on Sesame Street scares you (and oddly, he does!)... you come back to me for a few snuggles and a bit of reassurance, but then you're off again, ready for your next adventure. You stride into Jonah's preschool with such comical confidence when we pick him up each day. You give high fives and say hello to all the teachers and students and parents by name as if you were a tiny principal greeting the school, and then you sign yourself in with a picture on the bulletin board by Jonah's classroom door. One mother commented to me one day, "That child is a FORCE to be reckoned with!". You certainly are.

As you grow, I have a feeling you will challenge me in more ways than I can imagine. I know that finding appropriate outlets for all those big feelings and big plans is sometimes difficult for you, and I promise to do the best that I can to help you safely embrace all this wildness in a way that nurtures your bold spirit and doesn't shut you down. You are just so full of life, and you are teaching me more than I ever realized I needed to know.

So go explore, little one. I'll be here when you need me, with all the love this heart can hold.