“James, will you hold Mama’s hand?”
“Na,” you said, as you casually brushed my hand away and independently strutted past the White House.
“James, will you hold Hilda’s hand?”
“Na,” even your Hilda was rejected by the strong will of your 22-month old toddler soul on a mission only you understood.
“James, will you hold Jackson’s hand?”
And without even missing a beat, you strolled over to your brother and took his hand – he took yours back — and off you went. Just a couple of superheroes hanging out in front of the White House on a humid day in July. Somehow in that moment all the fighting over toys and attention and books and crayons and balls and trikes and grocery carts just went away.
You are both so amazing. I am in awe daily of what you understand, what you can do and what makes you tick. How much you love the things you love. How much you hate the things you hate.
People tell me this part we’re in – this part where you understand so much but communicate so little in actual English – is hard, but short. Too short. I am already starting to feel it slip away with each milestone you cross.
You are now demanding pull-ups with Thomas the Tank Engine on them … a show you cannot sit through for an entire episode. It is fascinating to me that you profess so much loyalty to the little engine over the usual cast of Sesame Street that has been appearing on your diapers since your Mama decided cloth diapering twins was for insane people. The kind of insane person she is not. I have a very selective type of insanity — if it takes away from spending time with you, well, I opt for easy.
There is so much to say in these letters, especially since I do not write them often enough. I won’t dive into the tiny details of our day-to-day existence as a family but rather broad-brush strokes of our life and the things you teach me. THAT, I am beginning to realize is what parenting is all about – not what we teach you, but what you teach us.
Yesterday we were in the city. After waiting 15-minutes for a train by the time we arrived at Metro Center you had had it. We could not take the three elevators to sunlight fast enough. But then there were the streets, so we had to stroll even further to get to the National Mall where I could set you free.
You did not make it. In front of the William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building (otherwise known as the EPA) you told me in no uncertain terms that walking needed to happen. And it did.
I often look around when I do this wondering where the other 22-month old children are walking around on the sidewalk? I had a friend with twins tell me once that she did not leave her house until her twins were five. There are many days when I see her point. It is by far the saner choice. But coming from a long line of slightly crazy people who break almost any sane rule – I am not following that path.
But truth be told, we all have our own crazy threshold, the trick is to keep it in balance somehow so we only reveal the true crazy with those that love every part of who we are.
It goes without saying that your Mama has never gone on anything but the road less traveled, and though I hope to instill in you some life skills that will keep you from going down the roughest of roads … I am a fan of bumps and curves and even hairpin turns. I suppose my parenting style is no different.
I will be 46 years old on Sunday — yes, your Mama is officially middle-aged according to regular people. But since I am planning on living to be 108, the age of the yogini (provided I can find a new yoga class here) or possibly 104 like Elizabeth Sullivan from Ft. Worth. For the record, I have been touting the medicinal properties of Dr. Pepper for at least four decades. I’m not going to worry too much about Sunday. I will go to a yoga class, get a two hour massage, have an ice cold Dr. Pepper over good ice and toast Elizabeth Sullivan.
It looks like even without yoga, she might make it to 108. Though she clearly did not make it without curiosity … or Dr. Pepper. I rest my case.
According to my calculations I am not even middle-aged yet. Which is a good thing. And if I was, so what? It’s not about the number of days we have, but what we do with those days — which is what I tell myself when I am dragging and hills seem insurmountable. Lately they have felt that way, which has nothing to do with you — but the adult part of my life, where sometimes things are more difficult to navigate.
My bucket list with you and without you is still longer than my legs. The books I want to read list is longer than that. The places I want to visit list is somewhere in the middle. My curiosity about the world drives me — and I hope curiosity drives both of you to discover not only the world, but the many unique talents I know you possess.
I let you climb and run and saunter. Pick flowers. Put your hands in the fountain. Sometimes we even eat popsicles before dinner after riding the National Mall Carousel … twice!
I just hope you keep running towards life, while stepping back to contemplate your next move. The embrace of life, coupled with the quiet contemplation of it is a good recipe for balance. It has never really failed me — though sometimes I forget the contemplation part, and it shows when I do.
Apparently, you are embracing it today. This just came in on my phone from the National Building Museum.
I’m glad you’re having a good time without me.
Thank you for letting me be the one to be your Mama. No one is luckier than me. What you teach me each day my Dumplings is far more than I will ever be able to teach you.
Here’s to lots more embracing life.