"Young boys should never be sent to bed. They always wake up a day older."Last night, I picked him up from his crib while he was still sleeping. He snuggled close to me in the dim room lit from the hallway. I slowly rocked from side to side the way a mother innately does when she holds her baby. He legs folded into my arms, and his head rested perfectly on me, just right, as if my shoulders were always meant to carry the weight of that blonde head. I whispered that I loved him, and with closed eyes, he whispered "luh you" back. There are moments when I know I'll never remember the details, but I know I'll remember the feeling, and this was one. The feeling of letting go just a little more when I only want to hold tighter. Because today, Walter turns two.
What I do remember vividly is what happened two years ago. I remember how I went to bed and woke up a half hour later in full labor. I remember the car ride to the hospital through dark and empty streets on that June night. I remember how quickly it all happened, and I remember all the pain. But most of all, I remember someone in the room telling me that it was a boy. And when I held him that first time, I realized I'd been missing him so much even though we hadn't met until that second. My heart was waiting so long to kiss him and call him my son. There's a love more powerful than the storybook love at first sight; it's the love so strong before the first glimpse. Every movement and strong kick felt, every heartbeat heard thumping on a monitor, and every time I stood in his empty nursery, thinking about who I would bring home from the hospital- they were all preparing me to cherish this little boy of mine.
He runs a little farther from me than he used to, busy with so much to learn, and see, and do. But he always run back, needing a hug when he falls down or when his feelings are hurt. And though I know I will fail both Millie and Walter a hundred times over, I can promise that I will always be here when they need to run back. They'll never know that I need those embraces more than they ever will. I'm grateful that he still looks back and runs for me now.
Today, he is two. Today, he is closer to more words, more complicated thoughts, more joy, more sadness, and more life. It's hard to arrange the cards and balloons without a little ache, because the boy who needed me for everything needs me a little less every day. But it's also impossible not to celebrate the last two years, because he's brought more happiness to our family than I could have ever imagined.
We've played, we've cuddled, we've danced, and we've been up late from a fever. We have walked and ran and climbed and read and napped together. We have learned and we have grown. And Walter, how sweet it has been.
Happy birthday, little love. You're my favorite boy in the world. I can't wait for our next adventures.