Dear Jackson and James:
Every time I sit to write a letter I think to myself — or perhaps out loud … often it is out loud because I am generally alone when I write these letters and I like to think out loud. For that matter, so does your Daddy. When we catch you talking to yourselves in front of the mirror one day — or pondering life’s greatest questions while speaking to no one — you will have come by it honestly. And for that quirk you can blame both of us. Along with a litany of other quirks you will one day discover and be unable to let go of and ultimately blame your parents for the rest of your days.
I pray every day they are endearing quirks and not the kind that will make your spouse want to divorce you after a few years and send you back home to live in our basement … if we have a basement.
Every time I sit to type one of these letters I wonder what to say that you will want to read one day. As a Mama, I know there are all sorts of books you are supposed to fill with little feet, and little hands and perfectly scheduled pictures and smash cakes – you have none of it. Your Mama is too spontaneous to be perfectly scheduled.
You will come to love and hate this quality as you grow-up.
So I don’t have well manicured books of perfectly decorated memories – but I have this blog. I have these letters. I have a heart so full of your little spirits I can hardly breathe sometimes as I choke back the tears watching it all move so quickly. 19 months feels like 19 days when I look at you.
And yet, there are moments it feels like 19 years.
Right now you are at the age where you are starting to test me, test Daddy … test the world around you. You want to see how far you can go while carrying your blanket, begging for a pacifier and looking for Mama.
Telling you no is hard. Watching you struggle – even if it’s just pushing something from one end of the house to the other – is hard. Listening to you cry and kick in frustration is hard. I know how little brats are made. Most of the time it’s probably not intentional, really, I don’t think it is – it’s parents not having the will power to say no, watch the struggles and listen to the cries. There are days I don’t either – but I know the boundaries help you, so I keep trying to redirect.
2015 is already a whirlwind. You’re both growing at the speed of weed, and you amaze me every single day with what you can do.
Jackson, if you don’t slow down (and calm down) you will spend your life covered in bruises. There is reason you were nicknamed Action Jackson – starting with the way you pushed my ribs in the womb. There was never any doubt when you were awake, and I will always believe your desire to get on with it is what led to the 4:45am water break. You yammer all day long. I still have no idea quite what you are saying, but I know it’s important and very funny, since your grin upon completion is large and infectious. You build Lego towers as tall as you are — then knock them down and start over. You love to push things so much your Daddy and I joke that one day you will run a moving company. You are meticulous — and when it’s not just right or something blocks you – the frustration oozes. You’ve even been known to drop to the ground in a complete tantrum kicking and screaming at the unraveling of it all.
Of course, I don’t put those videos on Facebook. I don’t want to ruin your chances of getting into a good college.
James, you like to take things at the speed of James. Sweet Baby James. My little Zen baby. My little Buddha. You were almost completely still in the womb. I was constantly trying to wake you up. You moan when you are going to sleep and when you are waking – sometimes for fifteen minutes. You are no longer still – but you definitely weigh the risk of every move you make. There is an inherent stillness to your thought process. You have an incredibly wicked sense of humor, especially with your brother. You seem to already know what gets his goat. You love to wear things on your head, you have a strange attraction to potatoes and balls are your favorite toy – all types of balls. You’ve got one heck of an arm according to your Daddy. You don’t play catch yet, but you throw as hard as you can and then your Daddy hands it back to you … and repeat. You love animals — especially your Raylan — in ways Jackson does not. He likes them well enough – but you love them. You’re going to be the first kid to ask me for a puppy … or a gerbil … or both. Can we say veterinarian?
I’m kidding about owning moving companies or becoming a vet. We just want you to become the best you possible. One of our friends recently posted a link to an article in the New York Times called – The Moral Bucket List. I hope you have one, or better yet, know how to find one. All the other buckets pale in comparison. I have email accounts where I send you things I think will be important for you to know or remember when you’re old enough. One day, I’ll give you the passwords. I’ve already mailed you copies of this article.
Trust me, that email account will be better than a baby book. Much better.
For the record, Mama was drawn to this article because she is a stumbler.
“The stumbler doesn’t build her life by being better than others, but by being better than she used to be. Unexpectedly, there are transcendent moments of deep tranquility. For most of their lives their inner and outer ambitions are strong and in balance. But eventually, at moments of rare joy, career ambitions pause, the ego rests, the stumbler looks out at a picnic or dinner or a valley and is overwhelmed by the feeling of limitless gratitude, and an acceptance of the fact that life has treated her much better than she deserves.”
So keep stumbling, testing, smiling 0r crying and getting back up again. Have faith it’s all going to work out. I’m still stumbling most days, but I would not trade it for a more graceful experience of this crazy thing we call life. And even on my darkest days — I always have faith it’s somehow going to work out.
Stumble away, my little Dumplings. Though I am going to try to help you avoid the stumbles I was not particularly fond of.
And there are a few.
Maybe more than a few.
Try to keep me in line as I stumble us across the country …