Dear Jackson and James —
I can’t believe it’s been just over two years since the day I was able to hold each of you for the first time — on your BIRTHday. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I am pretty sure I always will. I said, “I never imagined my heart could grow this big,” when you came into the world — but it can. It grows bigger every day. You are now officially aged by years and not a months. Makes me a little sad, actually.
It also gets harder every day because I can no longer swaddle you from all the bumps and bruises you get every week trying to make your way in the world. What you lack in the ability to speak, you make up for in your ability to climb, run, and jump on everything … and bite each other.
This is something we are working on because invariably you both have bite marks on your arms and backs from some sort of altercation over legos, blocks, push toys or balls. You would never consider doing this to a child you did not share a room with, but you have no problem sinking your teeth into each other. Is this the terrible twos? I hope we make it out without drawing blood.
We went in for your 2 year check-up earlier this week. According to the doctor who spends absolutely no time with you — you need speech therapy. According to your Mama you are both perfect. There is plenty of time for speech therapy if it comes to that, but since your Daddy did not speak until he was four, I refuse to get us all stressed out about that just yet.
After all, we all know your Daddy is never at a loss for words.
There are well reasoned charts about percentiles of this and that, but ultimately it does not matter. You are unique, creative, messy, hilarious and often overly dramatic human beings and your Mama thinks you’re doing just fine (except for the biting). I do have copies of all of these growth charts and milestone charts should you ever want to take a look, but I am not into comparisons.
Remember this: The only person you should ever be comparing yourself to is yourself. The rest is a waste of time. Worry about making yourself better today that you were yesterday and you’ll go far. Trust Mama on this one.
Tonight Mama finished her work and we spent a lot of time together — just the three of us because Daddy was at a meeting. It all started with a brand new set of the Duplo legos for your birthday from your Auntie Sharie — which was very exciting. You are finally starting to realize what it means to open a box and get a present. The excitement is infectious.
After playing at the water table outside, we took your trikes for a ride around the block. We turned the corner and there was an incline. Jackson, you looked up at me and got off of your trike and pushed it down the hill and then walked to it and got back on. I thought this was rather careful of you considering I call you Action Jackson. James, you lifted up your legs off the ground and just let the trike go full speed ahead — the only problem with this was … the sidewalk was bumpy and you got knocked off face first and ended up with a bloody lip. I saw it happening, but I could not get to you fast enough.
I just sat down on the sidewalk and held you while you cried. I wiped the blood off of your lip with my perfectly clean white t-shirt. We both looked like victims of a cat fight by the time it was over. As I put you down, I looked down the little incline and there sat Jackson, beaming at us. He was proud of his decision. I carried your little bike and we walked hand in hand to the bottom of the incline where you were ready to get back at it, despite the bloody lip.
As we walked home I began to think about the adult part of my life over the past several months since we moved. Daddy and I moved all of us this summer with one mission in mind — and we worked and worked and worked towards that goal full speed ahead until being thrown off course last month when your cousins Matthew and Lauren were here for a visit.
Mama fell off her bike and got a bloody lip so to speak. Mainly her heart was stunned and her ego was bruised, but we’ll call it a bloody lip for the purposes of this analogy.
She spent the weekend crying off and on — full of anxiety and stress. She talked to her close family and friends and they held her hand while she finished walking down the hill of turmoil.
But then Monday came, and it was as if for the first time in a very long time she was free. Free to be. Other people’s baggage was gone.
I was free in a way that made me want to lift up my legs and fly down the hill on my bike — but instead I decided to push the bike down first and walk slow and steady towards it. And when I met up with my bike — just like Jackson — I climbed back on and kept moving forward.
Daddy and I moved forward together and started a non-profit called Patients Rising. Collectively, we feel like we are heading downhill full speed ahead with our feet up — but the truth is, we are operating with our eyes wide open and both feet on the ground … except when we collapse in a heap at the end of each day.
The moral of this story is — try to always be working towards your own dreams. If you are going to sacrifice time and money and energy and moments away from family and friends, make sure you are doing it for the right people and the right reasons and the right dreams. Don’t work with people you barely know and trust is fickle. And last but not least, always make sure the dream you are sacrificing for is one you fully believe in — because only then is your investment in it worth it. I have a lot of practical advice to go with this, but let’s save that for another blog, or perhaps dinner when you turn 16.
I hope one day you both find something you love that drives you to exhaustion followed by the kind of sweet success that comes when you are doing what you love with people you love towards something you all collectively believe in — hopefully making the world a little better for those you touch in the process.
So Happy Birthday, my little Dumplings. I tell people every day I am the luckiest Mama in the world — even when you are making me pull my hair out.