Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Four

I.
You were born on September 23rd, 2004 at 9:50 PM mountain time. “Hey, it’s Bruce Springsteen’s birthday too,” we said, laughing and singing "Born to Run" in the delivery room. You are four today, and I’m already doing that thing that parents do when they realize that in the blink of an eye, you’re going to pack up your 2017 vegetable oil-powered Subaru and speed away into your future because you’re THAT excited about what’s next. I’m a little misty, I’m a little verklempt. I realized on your 2nd birthday, the only one in which you would double your age in one year, that you weren’t going to stay little for very long. At the time, this was really good news. Today you’re twice the person you were last year, even if you’re only one year older, and I find myself trying to slam on the breaks. (See also: Good luck with all that.)

II.
I couldn’t be prouder of you. You’re already the kindest person I know, with a self-awareness that I didn’t possess…ever, maybe. My friend Carol calls you “the future president of the United States” and says you’re the oldest soul she’s ever known. This is what friends are for, to tell you that you’ve managed to produce the finest person since Thomas Jefferson (who was born on my birthday, by the by.) But these are the things that stick with me: You can make friends anywhere, even if it’s a dog, or a bug, or a kid who doesn’t speak English. And you are able to give an unapologetic voice to your needs. As a woman who is guilty too often of torturing herself for needing anything at all, I can’t tell you what a relief it is that you’ve always been able to tell me what you need, and ask for what you want. I’m trying not to mess that up.

III.
That day I was trying to hurry you into your car seat, and you looked at me, tearful, and said, “I’m fragile today” made me grateful beyond measure for your way with words. What a relief that you can at least tell me what’s wrong, or what’s right, even if I fail to listen right away. The night I was trying to get dinner made, despite your whiny requests for milk, for a snack, for some paper and markers, you finally said, “I need attention.” Dinner waited that night, our schedule got all messed up, and nobody died; in fact, we were all better off for it.

IV.
You’ve decided lately that your old man is OK. In fact, you’re pretty sure he’s cooler and funner than the rest of us. I knew this day would come; it doesn’t make it any easier, though. After four years of your unabashed worship, it’s downright painful to pass on the baton, even if it does make bathtime, bedtime, and life in general a little easier. I have my own plans, that’s true, but the day you decided to join “Boy Team” as you call it, I considered setting them on fire. You are joining the legions of all the other creatures I’ve brought home who have adopted the habit of ignoring me until sick or hurt, at which point you all come limping back to me. That’s OK. Let the record show that, no matter what, I will be your Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman. I will be the president of your fan club. I will be your teacher, your student, your sidekick. And I will continue to uphold the doctrine your father and I carved into stone the day we learned of your existence: We will love you, whoever you are.

8 comments:

mickki said...

oh, jeez. that was so lovely, jody reale. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us. (sniff)

Joe said...

Happy Birthday S! (don't know if you share names on the net and I'm a cautious ninny)

You kinda wanna do a freeze frame on this time don't ya? Moira will be three in December and it's just going by too quickly for my liking.

Attention. Yup. Every time I find myself not paying it to Moira I remind myself that this moment is only here once and we miss plenty of dinners around our house too. The world indeed doesn't end and I don't really care if they won't be able to put "punctual" on my headstone. Or well fed.

Qrystal said...

Awwww, I'm teary-eyed! I want to feel that way about somebody someday too... :) Not "trying" yet, but dreaming...

Danielle Dudas said...

That was awesome Jody. I've missed seeing her and watching her grow.. but you paint such an amazing picture and I know that the beautiful little girl I knew back then has only matured into the caring and intelligent girl you describe her as now.

<3

Nic said...

Ahh Jod, speaking of verklempt...no one will match her wit and hasn't been able too since she was 2! And according to classmates she's got some pretty spectacular dance moves as well. Is it too late for her to run for president this election? Looks like she's already ahead of the candidates we have to choose from and we haven't even taken into account her ability to "play well with others". She'd be a shoe in I tell ya. Give her a hug for me and a "cheers to Wednesday"! Nic xo

amy said...

All IV of these made me teary-eyed, Jody. Also, they made me really excited about getting to know the human being who's been growing inside of me.

(But I'm also excited that nightly heartburn will be ending soon, too.)

You are a good egg, Ms. Reale, and little Miss S clearly lucked out in the mommy department.

Also: I'm going to see if I can fit "verklempt" into some conversation today. Thanks, JR!

Stacey said...

Thanks for visiting my blog :)

Laura Benedict said...

I knew what this post was about and I avoided reading it for a long time because I'm foolishly emotion-avoidant and I knew it would be powerful. But I read it today and it really is beautiful and eloquent and heart-rending. It makes me miss Pomegranate's curly-top days. Sometimes I forget what an act of trust it is for our children to express to us how they really feel.

Truly lovely, Miss Jody.