Dear Alexander Joseph,
Exactly one year ago today at 5:18 PM (quite a civilized hour, which I thank you for), you rocketed out of my body and into the world, screaming and peeing, all 7 pounds 10 ounces of you. Like a small dog, you never realized HOW small you were. I’m sure in your mind, you thought that you were much, much bigger and more mighty than you were (that temper is directly related to my genetics. I’m sorry to see that you inherited that trait).
The first time I looked at you (after a record 2 pushes–let’s not say what THAT says about the size of my girl parts), I thought that you resembled either Alien or Predator (I’ll watch those movies with you when you’re a bit older). My own mother looked at me when I was born and said OUT LOUD “That’s a face only a mother could love,” so I guess corny sentiments don’t really run in the family. And as for your brother’s birth, well, I was just pleased that I hadn’t birthed a litter of puppies (he was my first baby, and I had had MANY weird dreams), and then shocked by his toupee.
(Yes, sweetheart, those ARE your fists of fury)
Despite your ugliness (which I seem to be the only one who remembers–your father thought you were gorgeous. He’s a good man, your father, and you’re lucky to have him), I loved you immediately. I didn’t much care if you were “perfect” in the 10 fingers/10 toes manner (I didn’t honestly care if you had only 3 fingers. Who needs 10, anyway? It’s overkill), because seriously, all that mattered to me is that you were alive and breathing. You did end up a bit jaundiced, and I likened you to a Nuprin–Little, Yellow, Different.
(Oh, the screams! Your poor, poor brother.)
When we brought you home, your father (who had couvade syndrome, better known as a sympathetic pregnancy) nested like mad, so proud was he that his second son was finally outside of his (cranky) wife’s body. And your brother was so pleased to have a brother of his own (he had no idea what “having a brother” meant) that he STILL happily wears his multitude of Big Brother shirts with such intense pride.
(Ben has an amazing sense of humor)
I call the first couple of months of your life, dear sweet Baby J, your Asshole Months. You nursed and screamed and nursed and screamed so very much that we all had permanent ringing in our ears (tinnitus). In those rare moments that you were out of our sight, we all interacted with each other like patients at a nursing home. “Huh? WHAT’D YOU SAY?!?” was a staple of our conversations.
Whether your love was for the boobies or for my sparkling wit and fantastic personality, I don’t know. All that I do know is that you could not bear for us to be apart for even a moment. An hour was inconceivable, and you were so damn loud that I learned to pee with you sitting on my lap. Often nursing, which goes against my whole “don’t shit while you eat” motto, but hey, it beats the alternative, which was the loss of several more decibels of my hearing.
(You fucking wit me, you’re fucking wit a P-I-M-P)
Something snapped into place around month 6 or so, and you then became the most cheerful and sweet baby I’ve met. You’d smile at anything and everything, laugh loudly and often, and in those small actions (should *I* act like you did, people would think I was quite Simple.) you made the sleepless nights worth every second. Now, you play ball with such incredible dedication that it touches everyone who you throw your ball to (you’re obsessed, my sweet) and your new game of Peekaboo gives you such a charge whenever you play it. It appears that every time you indelicately whip the blanket off your head, your not quite developed vocabulary wants to remind the world that you are here, damnit, so listen up.
(Glorious, glorious smiles for glorious, glorious food)
On a more corny level (don’t fear, I won’t say this to your face because I’m uncomfortable with emotions), I think of you as my Redemption Child, and as the saying goes, if the shoe fits,
over-analyze wear it. My relationship with your brother is more complicated, of course, as your brother tends to be a more complicated person than you are. Dr. Spock told me (well, not me PERSONALLY, of course. He was dead by this time.) that you love your children differently, and I think he’s right. I won’t bother with the gory details as to what makes you different than your brother, but as parents are wont to do, I spent a good deal of my life thinking that your brother’s eccentricities were my fault.
You proved to me that without a doubt, although you both are going to need scads of therapy to undo the damage I will no doubt inflict upon you, that I am a good mother. You love me purely and simply and without complication. You love me for being me, and I can’t help but think that you were the child I’d never dreamed I’d be lucky enough to have (this is not to diminish the love I have for your brother, which is mighty and fierce, but this is YOUR birthday, not his). I feel the same way about your father (although, of course, you will never picture us as anything other than Your Parents, until you are much, much older and you realize where babies REALLY come from. Answer: Hot Beef Injection), but again, it’s YOUR day, my JJ.
But it’s also a day that we’re honoring other children too. Children who are not going to be coming over and sharing cake with you in the most literal sense, because they do not live on Earth with us any longer, but I am quite certain that they will be here with us in our hearts. If I try even slightly, I can hear them at the party: laughing, smiling and eating loads of cake. I wish, just like you do (and of course, their wonderful families do), that they were here today and every day, but the world can be a damn unfair place sometimes, which you will learn all too soon. This is why we must be the voice for those who have none, we must do this.
So today, one year ago since you entered the world madder than a wet cat Alexander J, we raise our glasses to you, our sweet angel babies, who should be here today celebrating. Since you are not, we celebrate YOUR lives as well. Smootches and cake and love to Heaven, for you today. We know all too well that the world is missing something incredible.
We’re thinking of you today Caleb, Baby JP, Kalila, William, Isabel Grace, Miss Maddy, William Henry, Aodin, Callum, Connor and Sarah, as we’re thinking of all the other angel babies I haven’t listed. We love you very, very much.
My only hope is that I prove to you time and again that I am up to the task of raising you to the best of my abilities. I may not be the wisest (I do many, many dumb things which you will notice and point out to me sooner than I’d like) person on the planet, but I have learned certain things that I wish nothing more than to pass down to you.
First, be genuinely kind to everyone you meet. Someone said that God is found in our interactions with other people, and despite not being Christian per se, I agree with that. I’m not saying that you need to be a doormat to be a good person, no, not at all. Stand up for yourself and for people who may need you to do it for them (not everyone is as forceful as you happen to be–I like to think of this as my contribution to your genetic soup), because sometimes taking a stand against a Wrong is the first step to making it Right.
I guess what I’m saying is don’t be an asshole unless you need to be (and I assure you without the slightest doubt in my mind that you will need to at some point), and treat other people well. You may never know where someone else is coming from, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to understand. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you judge them. Alas, since you don’t walk yet, we might have to save that lesson for another year.
Secondly, and equally as important, be true to who you really are. It sounds so simple when I write it, but it’s far more complicated, because first you have to figure out who the hell you are. That takes much longer than you can imagine. I know some people are still not sure who they are (even at my advanced 27 years), but I have little doubt that you’ll be a follower. Listen to your heart (or your head, if you’re like me) and follow what IT tells you, and not what someone else tells you to follow (nobody likes a follower) no matter who it is, unless it happens to be your mother (me), and then you listen like it’s the Gospel Truth.
(don’t listen to me, ickle dude. Just don’t.)
And possibly the most important lesson of all is this: do not, under any circumstances, allow your mother to pick your Halloween costume. It’s a bad, bad idea. See?
(Payback’s a bitch, eh? MAYHAP YOU SHOULD’VE STARTED SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT SOONER.)
I won’t bore you with any other pointless crap that you will, no doubt, just like I did, have to learn on your own, so let me end this letter with this:
I am insanely proud that you were chosen to be my son. You light up my days (and thankfully, no longer my nights) with your sweet face and intense dedication, and I thank you for everything you’ve given me. Redemption is a little heavy to put on your wee shoulders right now, so let’s make no more mention of it, lest you get a big head or something.
I’m looking forward to watch you grow and change throughout to coming year, and can’t wait to see who you’ll become.
Love you madly,
P.S. Make sure the next time you have to drop major pipe in your pants that you do it when Daddy is home to change you. I’ll give you a cookie if you make sure that your dump squishes up your back. He likes changing those diapers, let me tell you.
See how happy it makes Daddy when he has to change your diaper?
(Daddy says, “I love poopy diapers, dude!”)
P.P.S. I’ll give you TWO cookies if you do that. Maybe even THREE.