A letter to Bean, who is three

Airplane and cloud cake

Dear Bean,

Last weekend you turned three. Three! Just yesterday you were two; last week you were tottering around speaking your own language; last month you were a wrinkly, squirmy, squishy bundle in a too-big sleeper. And now, while I’ve been sleeping I think, you’ve transformed from baby into boy. Your round cheeks have lost some of their chub. Your squeaky baby voice has matured into an even tone. Your wispy baby hair is coarser now, with a cowlick that sticks straight up in the back. You’re still so little, but you’re trying so hard to be big.

I’ll tell you a secret, my Bean. I sneak into your room most nights before I go to bed, just to see you sleeping. I carefully open the door, just enough so that a slice of light from the hallway spills into your room. I tiptoe in, avoiding the creaky spots on the floor. I listen to you breathe. Still in your crib, some nights you look so big, stretched out on your back with your hands up behind your head. And some nights I am reminded of the baby still in you as you sleep on your tummy, knees tucked up under you and your bum up in the air.

Some days I miss the baby you. Mostly though, I’m proud of the person you are becoming.

Bean, you are strong-willed. Once you have a plan, nothing can distract you from it, and you always have a reason. If I ask you to please put the spoon back on the counter where you found it, you are likely to inform me that it is actually a robot shark, and it has to rescue the elephant (a cookie cutter also pulled from the counter), who is stuck in a deep, deep pit. I have learned that, while it may be more time-consuming, it is best to go along with this initial gravely important task. Once I’ve gone along with the first bit, I’m better able to persuade you that the garbage truck on fire portion of today’s adventure is best completed with actual toys, not sticky kitchen implements. You are becoming a master negotiator.

You love stories. Reading stories, listening to my made-up stories, telling stories of your own. I love to listen to your stories, full of pirates and robots and trees and dogs and boys and fire trucks and garbage trucks. I hope with all my heart that this never changes; that this spark of imagination grows as you get older. That nothing and no one can ever stifle your creativity, or stifle you.

Our days together are filled with action. Complicated rescues with every truck in your possession are frequent. There is always a hero, and as a recent development, there is often a bad guy (you typically play both roles). The trucks all talk to each other, and you make a different voice for each one. It cracks me up.

When we go to the park or a playgroup, you usually pick another adult, often a stranger, to be your “person.” You take them by the hand, show off for them, tell them your stories. Usually you have good taste – it’s a grandmother who is delighted with the funny little boy at her feet, or a young man happy enough to play along. But on the odd occasion that you pick someone who isn’t as enthused to be your person, my heart breaks for you a little. You keep trying. You don’t understand rejection, not yet.

A couple of months ago, we went to drop-in kindergym at the local rec centre. As soon as you’d entered the room you started running. In a constant loop, you went from one ride-on toy to another, to the mini trampoline, the music toys, the slide, the pirate ship play structure, and then back again for another round. And another. And another. Always running, usually yelling, a wild man having the time of your life. I noticed other parents noticing you.

Maybe at times I envy these other parents their placid kids; maybe I would like a few minutes of calm once in a while. But, as wild as you are, you are also the boy who spontaneously decided to give hugs to each of the adults in the room. (We will have a conversation about hugging strangers another time.) When you knocked down another boy’s blocks and saw that he was sad, you ran up on your own and said sorry, and you meant it. Yes, you are wild, but you’re also sweet and kind.

I’ve learned so much from you, Bean. Patience, flexibility, presence, love. You are the boy who made me a mother. Before you came into this world, I suppose I had an idea of what parenting would be like, and what my kids would be like. I believed that you would conform to my expectations, simply because I had them. Because I willed it. But here is what I’ve learned. You have your own will. You are your own person. You are not particularly pliable. But you’re sweet, and underneath the stubbornness you are eager to please; with love and space and security, you come around on your own time. You’ve taught me that in shaping your behaviour and guiding your path, my love is a thousand times more powerful than my will could ever be.

Bean, I won’t lie; it can be challenging to be your mama. But it’s also thrilling. Belly laughs are a daily occurrence. My heart bursts with love and pride every day.

Happy third birthday, sweet Bean.

Love and hugs and ten thousand kisses,

Mummy

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A letter from my seven month-old

Mum, Dad.

We’ve been living in this arrangement for seven months now. I really appreciate everything you do for me, I do. For instance, your diaper game is really strong. And peek-a-boo? Thrilling. Thank you for that. It’s just… I have some outstanding concerns. I don’t want to be overly harsh, but I’ve given you plenty of time to figure these things out on your own. Clearly, that isn’t going to happen. So it’s high time we had a little talk. Please review the information below.

Letter from Monkey

Cords. I want them. I want to pull them. I want to hold them. I want to eat them. The laptop cord, the vacuum cord, the lamp cord. I want them all and you continue to deny me. I’m never going to know until I try, right? So come on. You should just just give up already… because I won’t.

That small person who lives with us. You know, bigger than me, smaller than you. He is great. I mean, that guy – just fantastic. I want to grab his face with my little fingers and never let go. You know? But is there any way you could get him to stop throwing stuff at me? Thanks.

And on the topic of that guy. How to put this delicately… he was probably like me once, right? He didn’t arrive here into this house that size, did he? So presumably, you’ve done this baby thing before. I don’t want to be rude, but… shouldn’t you be better at this?

This is a tricky one. I’ve been working on this with you for months, hoping you would get it, but something’s getting lost in translation. It’s time to spell it out. When I am in bed and I cry, I want you to pick me up. That’s it. I can’t be much clearer than that, can I?Just PICK. ME. UP. I don’t care if it’s been twenty minutes or two hours since you put me down. I can’t tell time. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but come on. Get it together.

Stripey pants. I can’t pull them off. You know it, I know it. Stop trying already.

The fireplace is great, isn’t it? So cozy and warm now that the weather’s getting colder. Oh wait, how would I know that? You won’t let me near it.

Vent covers. They are delicious and they feel really good on my gums. Please stop removing me from their presence. At the very least, if you’re not going to let me have them, don’t let me crawl across an entire room to get to them, only to be snatched away at the last second. Not cool.

Shoes. See vent covers, above.

That thing you do in the bath. You know, where you snap your fingers above my head so I’ll look up, and then you clean under my chin. Enough already. I fall for it every time. It’s embarrassing. Let’s be adults about this; stop the trickery.

Here’s fact for you: I’m gonna barf on the carpet. It doesn’t matter how long you hold me after I’ve eaten; it doesn’t matter how long you confine me to the non-carpeted areas of the house. Bib or no bib, play mat or no play mat, I’m gonna barf, and it’s gonna be on the carpet. Deal with it.

There’s more to say, but I think you’ve heard enough for one day. Like I said, I really appreciate everything you do for me. I’m sorry for the tough love guys, but you can do better. Should you have any questions, I’ll be available from 2 – 4 a.m., in my crib.

Yours truly,

Monkey

To my breasts: a letter of apology

sorry

Dear breasts,

Guys, I have so many things to apologize for. Is it odd that I call you guys? Would you prefer girls? Ladies? Mammaries?

The other morning as I passed the bedroom mirror, instead of my usual cursory glance I happened to take a longer look. And then a double-take. It had been a while since I’d looked at myself with a critical eye, and the person looking back at me was not exactly the person I remembered. As my eyes traveled down my reflection, I finally found you. What were you doing down there? I was wearing a bra, wasn’t I? Was this just… where you live now?

The realization hit me: I’ve been taking you for granted. I let your youthful prime pass by without notice. I thought you’d always be there for me, right where I left you. And you are still there for me, just a little lower than I’d expected. How did this happen, I wondered? How did I not notice? It seems just yesterday you were firm and bouncing happily away, and now there’s something… listless about you. You’re deflated. Tired. You’re not your old selves.

I haven’t given you the support you need – that is clear. In my defence, it is difficult to find a nursing bra with that magical combination of both adequate support and comfort. So far the best I’ve done is not-quite-adequate support and zero-comfort. But to be honest, I haven’t tried that hard. To put it bluntly, I would rather dive naked and open-mouthed into a pool of ice-cold fish guts than go bra shopping.

You’ve put up with a lot over the years. I’ve encased you in ill-fitting and uncomfortable bras. I’ve lost crumbs and small particles of food in between you. Every time I decide to take up running again you get a thorough jostling. I’ve even cursed your size, tugging at v-neck shirts in an attempt to make you a little more work-appropriate. But in the past couple of years, you’ve gone from purely aesthetic to primarily functional in the blink of an eye. You’ve been latched on to by not one but two greedy babies. You’ve been hooked up to that cold instrument of torture known as the electric pump. (Pit of Despair, anyone?) You’ve been drooled and barfed on. You’ve got stretch marks. You’ve suffered cracks and soreness. You’ve leaked. You’ve been bitten. All in the name of duty.

cow

So I am sorry, dear breasts. It is true – I have valued your function far more than I ever valued your form. And now your form is… changed. I am sorry that I didn’t appreciate you when you were at your best, and I thank you for all your years of dedicated service. From now on I vow to cherish you for as long as we have left together, as I can only imagine that at the rate you’re going, you’ll be somewhere below my waist by the time I’m 40.

But… now that we’re talking again, would you just do me one favour? Would you maybe put the brakes on that inevitable journey down my torso, just for a little while? I promise, I’ll go bra shopping right away and find you something nice. It won’t poke. The straps won’t slip. I promise – I’ll find you the support you need. Because you’ve put up with a lot, and you deserve it.