Dear James and Jackson:
I can’t believe that you are almost eighteen months old. I was going to wait until you turned 18-months old to write the next letter — but something happened over the past few days I needed to remember. That’s how these letters work for me sometimes. I need to remember.
When I started all of this I imagined this blog full of memories, letters, musings, milestones, and so much more. I imagined that I would have all of this excess time to record your life in intimate detail. Silly Mama.
I do my best, but I know I miss details. But sometimes, like last night, things happen that touch my Mama soul in a way that forces me to pause, take a deep breath, and remember.
This week was a milestone for us, as it was the first time Mama went away on a trip for more than one night. It was for two nights, but really three because I did not put you to bed for three nights in a row. I did not wake up for two mornings to Dumpling chatter in the next room. We FaceTimed and you kissed me through the phone.
I cried when we hung up. You were fine.
While I was gone your Daddy took you to a new school for a visit, a Montessori School. We thought the interaction with other children a few days a week would be good for you. And when you went with Daddy you had a great time.
When Mama returned she took you to the school.
I carried you both into the building, one on each arm. They looked at me like they had never seen someone do this, but I carry 50+ pounds of toddler all the time. I do it every morning when I get you out of your cribs — first one and then the other. Trying to alternate as often as I can remember. I love it, and it makes both of you laugh.
When we got the the Montessori toddler class, you clung to me at first, but eventually you began to play. You explored. You roamed. You slid down the slide and clapped. You looked at me and smiled those great big smiles that melt my heart every time I see them. And then the kid took Jackson and threw him to the ground while he was in a toy car. Jackson was so taken aback he just sat there. I silently gasped. The teachers pulled the boy off of you and moved him to another corner.
Now I am not so overprotective that I would not enroll you in a school out of fear of a 20-month old child, but by the time we got back home I was having some serious reservations.
Was Mama ready?
You see there is a certain amount of chaos that comes with having your caregivers come to our home while I am working in the next room.
Would it be easier for me to get an office offsite? Yes.
Would it be easier for me to put you in a school offsite a few days a week so I could have uninterrupted work time? Yes.
But you see, with either of those scenarios, I don’t get the option of making you lunch, coming to hold you when you’re crying, sneaking up on you and making you laugh, spying on you while you’re playing in the backyard, picking you up from the park, or singing you to sleep at nap time. Or painting on the porch.
For all the times the day could have gone a little smoother without having you nearby, there are hundreds upon hundreds of moments that never would have happened had I not been in the next room. Peek-a-Boo and Muppet Dancing come to mind. And let’s not forget all the hours of Marvin Gaye in front of your Daddy’s stereo from the last century. Even our nightly bath time rituals.
Last night, just as I was getting into bed alone — your Daddy was at a convention in Sacramento — I heard James crying. I waited a bit for it to stop but it didn’t. Normally, I would allow you to settle back down because both of you sleep better in your own bed, but for some reason I went in and picked you up. I snuggled you against me and you went right to sleep.
I immediately flashed back to all the nights I spent with you doing Kangaroo Care when you came home from the NICU. I would alternate laying each of you on my chest wearing nothing but a diaper. I did at least one hour per day with each of you, usually more. It was my absolute favorite thing to do when you first came home. It was our time. The best was when I would put on my robe and do it with both of you at the same time.
As I was lying in bed, feeling the entire weight of James on my heart — tears began to stream down my cheeks. I was trying to think when the last day was that I did Kangaroo Care with you. Did I know it would be the last time? I wanted to go back for just a minute and remember when that was and take it all in. I froze as the tears kept falling.
And as your little hand clutched my night shirt, I realized I was not ready. For two days since visiting the school I was questioning if it was the right thing to do. Holding my Sweet Baby James I knew there was no school good enough for either of my Dumplings because Mama was not ready.
We talk about our children being ready for this or that, but when it all comes down to it, we all have to be ready.
Mama’s not ready. It’s all going so fast.
Yeah, I’m Gonna Miss This … I already do.