Dear Liam Eliot,
Today…you are six.
I remember so clearly holding your tiny body in my arms, wondering about five-year-old you, praying I would get to meet him….and now he has come and gone and Six has creeped in to take his place.
Six feels just a little bit scary and strange.
You have been telling kids on the playground you were six for months. You confessed this to me one afternoon, your slender hands wrapped around my wrist as we walked, swinging my arm around in that way I hate but will desperately miss when you stop. You giggled and told me that you tell them your birthday is July 26th- your brother’s birthday- and I am shocked but not at all because this is just so completely you of you; to stretch the truth about your age, as any other child would, but to add that splash of logic just for good measure.
Liam, my love, you make me absolutely crazy. You push my buttons. You frazzle my nerves. You expose my weaknesses. You are stubborn and emotional, just like me. You are a high strung know-it-all, just like your Papa. Sometimes, all those qualities come out in all of us, crashing together and making quite a mess. Some days, I drop into bed at night knowing exactly what you will have to say about it in 20 years on your therapist’s couch, but not even having enough energy to feel like a failure.
You know what though? I think the crazy is just the price I have to pay for your brilliance. And, if so, it is a price I pay gladly because, kid…
You. Are. Brilliant.
Your zest for life is astounding. Your energy is limitless (unless we are walking 10 feet to the parked car…and then you are tired and your legs hurt, of course). You are thoughtful and generous and sassy and silly and wild in the best sort of way. You are unique and confident and quirky and so much fun.
You are gentle with those that are younger than you- sweet and patient in a way that never stops surprising me.
You are talented and smart. You are feisty and tenacious. When you were born you created this entirely new feeling I never even knew how to feel before and so that space in my heart, that mama-space, will always have a vague sort of Liam shape to it.
I don’t mind that at all.
You make me laugh every single day. Sometimes, it is with your quick wit or your sharp tonugie and, sometimes, you walk into the kitchen frustrated, bang your fist on the counter and exclaim, “Just…..what the hell!” and I have to work hard not to bust as I casually ask where you learned this new phrase instead of kissing your serious face to bits for turning a curse word into something so stinking adorable.
I am positive you have been placed in my life to keep me humble, as you remind me daily that I have no idea “just what the hell” I am doing. All the ideas I had about the sort of mother I would be have been pulled and stretched and twisted by you as you’ve grown. Some of them have even been ripped up into little bits and scattered to the wind as you giggled maniacally.
But honestly, that is okay…because those ideas weren’t even that great. Of course, I still have work to do, but I am happy with the sort of mama you are shaping me to be: a mama who is willing to step back, to let go, to stop analyzing every single thing she does in some vain attempt at “getting it right,” an imperfect mama who no longer parents to impress other parents but just does the best she can with out worrying if it looks right, a mama who loves her kid even when he makes her crazy and who is loved by her kid even when she makes him crazy too.
In the end, loving you is all I get to keep. And one day, it is all you will have of me- my completely imperfect, but never, ever failing love. For that reason, I would not trade a single second with you, Liam…not even the really, really hard seconds. Every second I have with you is another second I have to love you. One day, when you are far away from me, that love will just be another part of you, like breathing. You won’t notice or think about it very often, but when you do pause to examine it, I hope it feels like a lung full of fresh air. You are so loved.
If you are ever wondering why it may seem that Mama and Papa don’t exactly know what they are doing…that would be because we don’t. As much as I hope we are getting better at this parenting gig, you are always the first adventurer down each new path and so, you get the worst of all the mistakes, I am afraid. At six, as your baby teeth start to fall out and you start figuring out who you are, you are entering into uncharted territory for us all once again. As we all stumble around in the dark, making wrong turns and slamming into dead-ends, I sort of begin to understand what makes us first-borns so neurotic and jumpy. It is just the nature of the birth-order, my love. (Good thing you are in good company.)
You have never been six and we have never had a six year old but even in this new dark, even with all the mistakes I am going to make lurking somewhere in the future, even with the tears that filled my eyes as I kissed five-year-old Liam good-bye last night, I am so happy to be here with you. I am so excited to get to know six-year- old Liam.
Something tells me, he is going to be pretty freakin’ amazing.
I love you forever and forever,