The happiness I feel when I see a big moon at night, or hear the garbage truck in time to run outside and watch it, or catch the school bus every morning at 7:09 during breakfast with Jackson, or sing the Itsy Bitsy Spider to an open-mouthed grin, or play peek-a-boo with sheer determination to become invisible before the boo, pretty much solidifies that I am in a different phase of my life right now. I might have to go to bed at 8:15 because Davis thinks his day should start at 4:45 a.m., but I will squeeze those chubby little cheeks and even chubbier legs all day long. And I might feel like I’m bartering with Kim Jung Un as we negotiate how much cereal Jackson needs in a bowl at any given time, but I’ll take him outside to see the moon and give him his nine kisses before bed every night. And as every phase passes, for them and for me, I can only hope that we become the best new moons we can be.
You have grown into the most independent–yet dependent–, easily pleased–yet beyond stubborn–little boy. Not a day goes by that you don’t make me laugh, cry, smile, clench my fists, beam with pride, question my sanity, and thank God for choosing me as your Ma-Ma.
Our days always start the same way. For you, it’s two bowls of “Dada’s Cereal” or Cinnamon Toast Diabetes. For me, it’s the long “huggie” you give me when I am taking you out of your high chair. I like to watch the Today Show, but you insist on watching golf. In fact, golf is the only show you will watch any time of the day.
You refuse to leave the house in anything other than your Pete the Cat blue (Nike) shoes. Whether you’re going to school, swimming with Grandma, music class, the park, Bapa’s house, church, or Honey and Pappy’s, you insist on wearing your Pete shoes.
We sing “Landon on the bus” more times in a day than I can count. The first thing you say when you wake up in the morning (and the last thing you say before you go to bed) is Landon, Emerson, Greyson, Hall, and Henry. It’s almost as if you can’t complete simple tasks without help from your cousins. “Landon on the bus says eat your blueberries,” or “Emerson on the bus says jump up and down”, or “Hall on the bus says change your diaper”. Round and round the wheels go, task after task and cousin after cousin I sing. All. Day. Long.
You like things done the same way every time. Most things, like picking between two colors for spoons in the mornings, aren’t a big deal. But letting you out of the stroller at the end of the street to touch the fire hydrant once means an additional 18 minutes for you to touch the fire hydrant and walk the rest of the way home every single day since. This also means that we have to bring the trash bin and the recycling bin to the street every Tuesday despite the fact that recycling comes every other week–because you just can’t bear to let the recycling stay behind.
You are my little helper. Related to the above, I can no longer start the washing machine myself. Or transfer the clothes to the dryer myself. Or hit the button on the Keurig for my coffee myself. Or get the mail myself. Or unload the dishwasher myself. You have duties, and I better respect them.
But your best duty is your new duty as a big brother. There is no one that you are more excited to see in the mornings than Davis, and he is the only person or thing that makes getting you up from your nap slightly tolerable. You constantly try to snuggle with him (steamroll him), kiss him (slightly bite), and rub his head (poke his eyes out), and i know it won’t be long until you teach how to throw rocks and trucks down the slide almost decapitating many of children.
Possible decapitations aside, these two years have shown me that you are the sweetest, most gentle soul there ever was. You love everyone. Nothing makes you happier than trucks and blocks and puzzles and books, other than your family. And no matter how many times I sing [Insert cousin] on the bus, it will never compare to how many times I thank God that I was chosen to be your Ma-Ma.
Happy 2nd birthday.
From the moment you hold your baby in your arms,
you will never be the same.
You might long for the person you were before,
When you have freedom and time,
And nothing in particular to worry about.
You will know tiredness like you never knew it before,
And days will run into days that are exactly the same,
Full of feedings and burping,
Nappy changes and crying,
Whining and fighting,
Naps or a lack of naps,
It might seem like a never-ending cycle.
But don’t forget …
There is a last time for everything.
There will come a time when you will feed
your baby for the very last time.
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child.
One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down,
And never pick them up that way again.
You will scrub their hair in the bath one night
And from that day on they will want to bathe alone.
They will hold your hand to cross the road,
Then never reach for it again.
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,
And it will be the last night you ever wake to this.
One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus”
and do all the actions,
Then never sing them that song again.
They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,
The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone.
You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face.
They will run to you with arms raised for the very last time.
The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
Until there are no more times.
And even then, it will take you a while to realize.
My sweet, stationary baby from last St. Patrick’s Day is now a running, babbling little boy. Still just as sweet, still rather needy. This first picture brings back so many memories, of the many things I miss and a few things I do not miss about that day and stage. You take the good with the bad at every stage, but the one we are in now–the walking/exploring/destroying/Tasmanian Devil stage–is my favorite yet.
At 15 months, Jackson can best be described as a man on the move. I don’t think he has ever sat still for more than 19 seconds unless strapped in to his high chair.
He has tons of toy chests in our house. They are called cabinets, and they do not contain toys. We went a few months without locks on the kitchen cabinets, but too often he was rolling the pizza cutter on our hardwood floors and getting the meat thermometer a little too close to his eyes. Now, we so generously give him one drawer of cutting boards that he can play with. He seems to think they are balance beams, with balance being best achieved with dirty shoes on. We have yet to baby-proof the bathroom cabinets, where he now spends the majority of his time. He loves the bottle of shaving cream, dental floss, deodorant, and free tubes of toothpaste from the dentist. I can’t complain though because most of the time he puts everything back like a little angel. How can you baby-proof such happiness?
He still loves the outside. Although now his wagon and toys have been sidelined to the dangerous art of running up and down inclined driveways and curbs. One of the cutest things is watching him as he hears an airplane. He leans his head back so far to try to find it that he falls over nearly every single time. He loves pushing his Crazy Coop and his lawn mower, but walking aimlessly still reigns supreme.
Besides street-walking, Jackson is happiest out-and-about playing with other kids. If only making friends was always as easy as walking up to kids and poking them in the face with a smile on. Playing instruments and singing songs with Ms. Lorie and friends at music class is still his favorite, but library story time comes in at a close second. His idea of reading consists of flipping through board books as fast as humanly possible and running away when you start to read, but the music and bubbles keep him coming back. The proudest that I have ever been in my life might be when he started clapping to “if you are happy and you know if clap your hands.” The second proudest was just a few days ago when he added stomping to “if you’re happy and you know it stomp your feet.” My little genius is already putting together sequences.
I mentioned taking the good with the bad at every stage. At this stage the bad includes, but is not limited to, him constantly unrolling the toilet paper. How is it so easy to roll down and so hard to roll up? And taking every single item out of the recycling bin 45 times a day. Michael and I now spend our nights playing “I spy” to find the remaining milk cartons and newspapers scattered throughout the house. Also included is searching high and low to find the stray cat that must have snuck in the back door and is slowly dying a painful death only to realize that it has just been him whining for four hours straight…
it feels like just yesterday dada thought the hospital wasn’t going to let us bring you home because we couldn’t figure out how to loosen the straps of your car seat. One or two mangled arms out of socket later though, we drove away as a family of three, never to look back at what was.
if i had to count how many times i said i love you and kissed your cheeks a day, it would be more than all of the many hairs on your head. every day i love you more. every day i wonder if it’s possible to love you more the next day. every tomorrow i do.
it’s only fitting that the first words you understood were “kiss” and “go”. you give the absolute sweetest kisses in the world, and there’s nothing you love more than being outside. you’re curious and observant, always on an exploration. your favorite place is the grocery store, and you are the happiest in music class or in your wagon. your smile would light up the darkest cave.
it’s the smallest things you do that are my favorite, that i will never take for granted. like your grunts of excitement when you hear the gear shift move to park because you know you are about to be at a new place. or how you would trade a winning lottery ticket for a pack of tic-tacs to shake. or how you use my legs as a drum. or, how if you hear the back door open, you would beat Usain Bolt to it. or how you get on your knees and whimper for me to brush your hair when i’m brushing mine. or how you can’t shake or bang toys without your mouth wide open. or how you laugh when I dance in front of you in your high chair.
if i could pull you in your wagon to the ends of the earth every day of my life I would. if i could slow down time and make you little forever i would. but i know you are destined for greatness. i know you will only get sweeter and smarter with age. i know you will change me for the better every day that I spend with you. and no matter how old you get, you will always be my sweet baby boy.
Jackson is now nine months old, which makes him the same age as the amount of months he spent in utero hearing “Is this cheese pasteurized?”. For some reason, it brings me back to the morning that I–or should I say we–found out that I was pregnant. Like all good pregnancy test stories, it involved a group of girls running down Franklin Street in Chapel Hill in their outfits from the night before and buying a pregnancy test and eight Gatorades at Walgreens, followed by said group of girls breaking down the door to Michael’s hotel room to wake him up and tell that indeed he was going to be a father. Best. Morning. Ever.
And, although we knew our lives were about to change forever for the better, we had no clue as to how much joy, hope, love, happiness, and boxes of diapers that little pink line would bring us.
It turns out that, combined with toys and outside time, we bring him joy as well. His nine month (at home) favorites include:
Mail Time: All magazines might as well be addressed to Jackson Hutson. I’ve become a master magazine rater based on thickness of paper. People Magazine ranks last due to the incredibly thin paper which rips and dissolves in his mouth within seconds. Thick magazines like this Crate and Barrel have about a 4-minute dissolvable rate per page.
Wagon Rides: Always looking as pompous as George Washington crossing the Delaware. The importance of the squirrel-finding mission is not lost on him.
Swing: While the kid has zero chill inside, he can straight up chill in a swing.
Activity Table:Before he could pull up or stand up on his own, we took the legs off and he played with it constantly. While the height is adaptable, I can assure you the two sing-songs it plays are not so much.
Notable mentions: dirty keys, shoes, cardboard, the recycling bin, jars in the refrigerator, plastic bags, dry diapers, bags of wipes, empty water bottles, cords, cords, and cords.
When all of these fail to appease him and I have taken him on enough wagon rides to cover the distance of the Oregon Trail, we leave the house. We try to do at least two outings a day, otherwise witching hour becomes witching hours and I become the witch of the hour.
Finally (did i say finally!), it is Daddy’s arrival at the end of the day that it is his favorite. Unlike a borderline rude text followed by a winking emoticon, Boogs true feelings aren’t left to interpretation. If he likes something, he will flail one of his arms with a grin. If he loves something, both of his arms will flail uncontrollably. Without a doubt, this is a two-arm flail every single night.
And those two smiles not only make it happy hour, but the happiest of hours.
Ode to Sunday mornings of the past. Waking up at 10:35a.m. for 11 o’clock church used to seem like a feat, a feat that made me feel worthy enough to sit in the pews despite the smell of gin and sodas still on my breath. Now, rain or shine, one cocktail or ten cocktails, we are up before 6:45a.m…and my breath smells of coffee and cereal and oh.my.God i’ve been up for 4 hours rather than juniper.
Sunday mornings used to be easy. Getting home from the grocery store before the Panthers’ game started was, by all accounts, a raging success. Now that Jackson is here though, the simplicity that used to be Sunday is no longer. When that 16 lb. human alarm clock goes off, we better be ready to play with toys come hell or high water. As for our afternoon naps of the past, no matter how times we try to get him to snuggle with us–even after darkening the room to the point that he can’t see his toys–he just won’t. It’s a lost cause.
It’s not only Sundays that are harder. It’s showering. And cooking. And cleaning. And going to the bathroom in public bathrooms(I look like Michael Jackson dangling a child over the railing as I hold him out and squat, i assume this is normal?).
Luckily, I have a few things that make my days easier.
- Baby Breeza: A Keurig for baby bottles, a lifesaver for all. When Starvin’ Marvin wakes up, that bottle better be ready within negative 85 seconds. We used to mix the bottle, brew an empty cup of water from the coffee keurig, set the bottle in the hot water and let it warm up. Marvin immediately let us know this was unacceptable parenting. With the press of a button, what used to take 5 minutes now takes 19 seconds. The sheer happiness in his eyes when he hears the machine start lets me know that he forgives me for letting a side table fall on him last week.
- Baby Bjorn bib: The thought of even putting a dirty cloth bib in my washing machine makes me want to buy a new washing machine. The thought is about as repulsive as not having a “feet” end of the blanket. How people gamble and snuggle their faces on what may or may not have been the “feet end” last time is just, well, about as nasty as a dirty cloth bib. Enter the Baby Bjorn plastic bib. It not only catches food that falls (which is close to 46%), but it is plastic. After each meal, I rinse it out in the sink and use a clorox wipe on it. Cleaned and Cloroxed, done and done.
- Doorway Jumper: Without this contraption, there’s a good chance my hair would not have been washed since about April 6th when he outgrew the rock-and-play. I hang it from the doorframe next to the shower. I’m genuinely intrigued what other people do who don’t have this–not shower? Strap them to the toilet? I also use it in the kitchen to cook dinner, unload groceries, load the car, and count my freckles/do anything and everything as long as this monkey is happy being strapped into something.
Besides those three things (and a “feet end” end of the blanket), the only other thing that makes my days easier is the smile on his face when he wakes up. No matter how many times I want to cut off the monitor and swear I didn’t hear anything, the second I walk in and see that smile, it’s the best day of my life all over again. I may not be ready to play “find the instrument that this sound makes” on the learning cube at 6 a.m., but at least I know I can shower, have a clean bib, successfully make bottles, and spend the day with my best friend.