Early this morning you shouted from your bed, “Mom! Is it time to get up yet?” I didn’t answer even though your loud question woke me from a dead sleep.
“Mom!!” this time louder. “Is it time to get up yet????”
“Not even close,” I said turning over, “go back to sleep.”
Then a raucous climb down the ladder of your bunk, a jump from the last step to the floor and then thud, thud into the bathroom. And then, thud, thud thud toward me.
“Mom! One more day!”
This is how we’ve started every morning for the past week. The countdown to your birthday.
To be accurate, it’s how you’ve started every morning for the past six years.
One second you were tiny, gripping the sides of your crib, fussing eagerly to be picked up. And the next second, bam! All of your pants are too small, your feet are gigantic; and you are sounding out words on the sides of buildings.
On the night you were born, the moment I first held you in the recovery room, the world melted away. I forgot that this kind of thing had happened before. Babies had been born before. Mothers had become mothers. Families finally felt like families.
I forgot everything.
I forgot about the possibility of separation. I couldn’t imagine a day when we wouldn’t be close. I forgot that kids grow up. Become independent. Disagree with their parents. Learn to want different things. I forgot about families who become estranged from each other.
I forgot grade seven.
I forgot about elaborately folded secret notes denouncing parents as annoying and downright dumb. I forgot high school where I was sure that if I could just get my own place, I would be free of their tyranny, stay out late, apply all the eye make-up I wanted. I forgot the escape to university where I could finally get my nose pierced without permission, embrace grunge without disapproval. I forgot all those years where phone calls home felt obligatory.
I forgot all of it.
Because that night I first held you, I knew with great clarity that you and I were going to be different. We would reinvent the mother-child dynamic. It would be different for us. You would always want to be with me, always need me, always look to me for the answers.
You, I could tell then, would always be agreeable, always attentive. Always compliant.There would never come a day when we wouldn’t see eye to eye on everything.
That day did come though.
My fog lifted and there you were, already a whole person, separate from me. You had opinions on just about everything: Your new winter coat “sucks”, you said, because it takes too long to zip up. You can't wear the waterproof thermal mitts because they don’t allow for proper snow ball formation. You hate plaid. Naveen can sit on your bed only if he takes off his socks, holds in all toots and burps and refrains from coughing on you.
When I was sad, you told me you liked my shirt. And when I was really sad you said "I love everything you're wearing Mom!" And sometimes. Well sometimes, I noticed that you said things just because it was easier. You appeased me.
This year, you understood the vastness with which your brother adores you. At a birthday party a few weeks ago for one of your mutual friends, I watched as he hid behind you, waited for you to pioneer the way; his shield in this life.
You love your family and tell us so all the time. You love school, your teachers and your friends. You love your grandparents, aunts, uncles and all of your cousins too. You love candy and popcorn, hockey and forts.
Oh and Lego, you love Lego.
And you are itching for adventure every minute of the day. When we tell you about an upcoming trip, you want to go that minute. Time is such a nuisance. Are we there yet? You ask over and over.
Are we there yet?
Well no. We aren't there yet. I don't want to be there yet, is that bad? I want it all to slow down. I want to marinate in the you of today, bask in your light and sparkle. Get caught up in the world through your eyes.
Happy birthday my big, big boy, thanks for letting me live it all again, through you.