About this Blog

This blog is the host of the letters I’ve written to my son from pregnancy to his second birthday and beyond. I will continue to add to it as he grows, that he may know that every moment of his life has been important to me, even the seemingly insignificant parts. ❤

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4.5 years

Dear Lucas,

I read through your last letter before writing this one to see how much has changed. Honestly, behaviorwise, not too much. We’re still majorly on the struggle bus with listening and self-control. I swear, if you would start napping again, I guarantee you’d be a happier kid, but you just won’t.

Academic-wise, you’ve grown leaps and bounds since the spring! We just had a parent teacher conference a few weeks ago, and Miss Debbie told us that you’ve mastered scissors, can count to 100 (though you still get stuck at the tens place transitions like 20, 30 etc), have a good grasp on basic addition and now subtraction as well, and know all of your letters by sight and most by sound! You love learning, and what we’ve discovered is that you are truly a people pleaser. You love to make someone else proud and to be helpful. You love to be praised and feel proud. You thrive on it. That has really helped you grow at school this year with learning. It’s like it just clicked for you!

You had a bit of a rough patch at the beginning of the year going in with mostly new kids in class, and there has been a constant struggle for you to share your new best friend at school Jacob with another girl in class who claims she’s Jacob’s girlfriend. You get very adamant that this girl is NOT allowed to marry Jacob, even though her mother apparently said it was okay. (hahaha!) Things seemed to have settled down now, though, and you love to play with Josie and Georgia when Jacob is preoccupied. You even got to go to Josie’s birthday party at Chuckie Cheese and had an absolute blast! She even made you a special friendship bracelet that you like to wear with a few “L” beads on it.We still host weekly playdate a lot, and you and Walker still act like brothers quite a bit, fighting less now, though.

You’ve become an absolute pro at video games. When brother is napping and I’m working in the office, you get quiet time to play video games. You love the Lego games like Pirates of the Caribbean (you like to sing the theme song or ask me to sing it), Jurassic Park (you call it “the dinosaur game”), or Star Wars (you pronounce it “Star Boars!”). You get very frustrated sometimes, though, especially if I don’t have the skill to help you in a game. You get super emotional, and that usually leads you you taking a break from it for a bit or having that privilege revoked.

Your brother follows you around and wants to do everything you do, which you already find super annoying. On the other hand, you also like to follow him around and take things from him, which makes him cry. Usually, his crying is enough for you to quickly retreat back and return the item, but sometimes you’re a real turd about it. Everett really dotes on you, though, and finds most of what you do hilarious still. So you love to make him laugh and teach him new things. You’ve taught him to high five, how to go down the slide, and even how to color. He watches everything you do and copies you. You still love to hug him (too hard and too much sometimes) and I can see a real bond forming between you guys, despite how poorly you treat him sometimes.

You’re having a really hard time lately with sharing when it comes to your brother. Everyone else you do a good job, but not with Everett. If he has something, you want it. If you have something, he wants it. And of course, Everett is only one and doesn’t talk much yet, so he just screams at you when you are being mean. You’ve also developed this terrible behavior where when you do something naughty and you get caught and reprimanded you laugh about it. It infuriates me so much. I know it’s a nervous laughter, but it’s definitely a behavior we’re looking to modify. Your other reaction is to WAHHHHHHH still and start crying. Both are so draining. Still working on finding that good medium ground where you can express your frustration, anger, or sadness without flying off the handle. If we can’t find it, I’m sending you to Hollywood because boy are you dramatic.

Your sass and vocabulary know no bounds lately. You do this thing when you get hurt/mad that is straight from my mouth. You say, “THIS IS WHY WE SHOULDN’T __________.” So like, if you smack into a wall because you were staring at the ground while you walk, I would say something like, “Oh, buddy, I’m sorry you got hurt. This is why you shouldn’t look down when you walk! You have to look up to see where you’re going!” But now when it happens, you scrunch your face up into this horribly twisted angry face and yell, “THIS IS WHY WE SHOULDN’T HAVE WALLS HERE!” The other day after Everett took apart your Lego creation that you left on the floor, you yelled, “THIS IS WHY WE SHOULDN’T HAVE A BABY!” Sometimes when you get in trouble, you go into despair mode and cry out while sobbing, “This is the WORST DAY EVERRRRR. I’M THE WORST. I’M A BAD BOYYYY.” This could be because I told you not to sit on your brother’s head because you could really hurt him, or it could be because I said no more screen time because you’d already played too many video games that day. Very dramatic.

You say yogurt instead of ogurt now, and you say Lucas instead of Wucas. It breaks my heart a little. But there’s still plenty of trip ups I enjoy hearing in your speech. Makes you feel little still. You’re far from small now, though. You’re already in size 5 pants. Your legs have grown a few inches since your birthday, I swear. You feel humongous when I try to carry you. It’s unnerving how big you’ve gotten. When you climb up into my lap, you spill over all sides. I’m sure you’ll be taller than me by fifth grade for sure.

You’re still attached to Daddy quite a bit; Daddy does bedtime every night unless he’s gone traveling. You still love telling Bandit stories, but you are partial to asking Daddy to read you Star Wars stories at bedtime now, too. Dad also has you watching the movies, and we’re going to take you to see the new one at the IMAX in just a few weeks. Speaking of movies, you are really into My Little Ponies right now. I had to hunt everywhere to find you a My Little Ponies shirt for Christmas this year that was in a boy cut (actually Robin ended up finding one for you for me). All the other ones were in girl shirts (not that we’re above that- had it come to it, you totally would have gotten a girl’s sweatshirt). Robin and I even took you and Walker together on a double mom and son date to see the movie in theaters. You’re also into watching Fuller House (a Full House continuance series on Netflix) which I don’t mind a bit.

I love you so much, kiddo. You are at a super trying age right now, and I’m doing my best to remind myself that I won’t get this year back. That next year you’ll be full time in Kindergarten, and I need to enjoy this time with you. And as rough as some of this past six months have been, it’s also been a huge time of progress and blossoming for you with responsibilities. You let the dogs out when asked, feed them, take your dishes to the sink, sometimes help with household chores like unloading silverware or helping collect the garbage cans on trash night. You love to learn how to cook/bake and ask to do so often. You can make your own PB&J for the most part, except you do still need help with spreading on the PB&J part. I’m really proud of the friend that you are to the kiddos you play with, and I still see that super empathetic kid inside you often. I just need to get you to apply it to your brother!

Love you, buddy,

 

Momma

 

4

Dear Lucas,

My gosh, how can you already be four? I feel like three was such a difficult year of changes for us all, but especially for you. You daytime potty trained, became a big brother, started preschool at a new school, went to summer camp for the first time at your school, took swim lessons at the Y, switched rooms and to a big boy bed (my old Queen sized bed), traveled quite a bit, and morphed into this very silly, very goofy, very obnoxious, but still super sweet and loving and concerned little boy. No longer my toddler or my baby, you’re so gangly, so tall, so blonde and blue eyed and long lashed still.

You can count to almost 30 now, can count by twos, fives, and tens sometimes. You can do simple addition visually by counting, and math really seems to intrigue you. You still love to read, and we still read to you every night- 3 stories or 1 chapter of Harry Potter with me (I got you the illustrated edition). You wrote your first name by yourself for the very first time on the very last day of school this year, and Miss Rory was SO proud of you. You learned how to hold a pen/pencil this year properly for writing, and you also improved your scissor skills. You love to color and draw and make art more than anything, and I think you’ve gone through about two reams of computer paper this year alone because you don’t want to color in any of the coloring books you have- you want blank paper. You have an incredible sense of direction, and you even call me out when I go a different way to get somewhere. You’re finally forward facing in the car, so now that you can see even better, you are a backseat driver. You’re starting to become more aware of geography, asking lots of questions always, and you seem to really enjoy science stuff too- always asking how and why.

You still love building with Legos, and you even have some of the tiny Legos now (Lord, help save our feet!) but you get easily frustrated with those. You love to build with your magnetic blocks (square and triangle magnetic tiles) and spend lots of time with Daddy constructing great buildings. You also still enjoy building with wooden blocks and your new giant cardboard blocks too. I swear you’re going to be an architect or an engineer like Daddy.

You are a very active, very physical little guy; you like to climb and jump and hop, and you still looooooove to dance. We are going to sign you up for dance in the fall, per your request and my encouragement. You love to climb and swing and run when on the playground just as much as you like to draw with chalk and play pretend. You’ve picked up this terrible habit of playing “shoot guns” (ugggghh) and “bad guys” from the bigger boys at school, but I don’t let you play “shoot guns” at home. Maybe that’s why you enjoy school so much; apart from the obvious super social factor that you thrive on, you get to do things there you don’t get to do at home. Most of the boys in your class will all go on to Kindergarden next year, and that’s been really hard on you. Some of them were calling you a “baby” since you were going to be in Pre-K instead, and you took that really hard. Thankfully, those kids were much kinder by the end of the year.

You invited about 6 classmates from school to your birthday party, even, and 5 of them came including Liam (seems to be your most frequent buddy), Grady, and Bentley (a friend you went to a monster truck rally with a month or so prior to the party!). You especially seemed to like Josie and Amber, and when you opened the gifts they gave you, you said, “Ohhhh! I love this! I wanted one of these! This is perfect!” in the most breathy, adorable, loving voice ever, and you were cracking us up! You had a super hero themed party, and everyone got capes and masks, and I set up a super hero training obstacle course. You guys loved it. You had to “rescue” the baby doll from the end of the course. You also all enjoyed playing in the bounce house, drawing with chalk, and just running around like crazy kids, per the norm.

You like to play tug of war or wrestle/chase with your new puppy, Fez (we got him around Easter time just before your birthday). You were hesitant at first about getting a puppy, telling me, “I don’t want a puppy because they go potty in the house.” But now that Fez is here, you do an awesome job of taking care of him. You let him out of the house every morning and throughout the day. You like to lead him around by the collar saying he’s your “Police dog!” You play fetch with him, tug of war, and you really enjoy working on training with him- giving him treats and teaching him to wait, sit, lay down, shake, and stay. You don’t really enjoy walking him on the leash- that loses its glamor after about five seconds. You still love introducing Enzo as a “boxer mix” and telling people “we saved him from the shelter”.

Your social skills are still beyond what most 4 year olds are capable of. You will talk to ANYBODY. And you do. You talk to EVERYBODY. It’s gotten to the point where it’s less cute and more annoying now, so we’re working on that- on appropriate interactions with strangers. You like to do the prom queen wave at Target while I’m pushing you around in the cart, calling out “HIII!” to everyone you see. We’ve been working on making eye contact, smiling, and if they smile back, THEN saying hi. It’s not going well so far. You pick up on everything though, always listening, always noticing. It’s been bad news for Dad and I sometimes when we’re talking about things we don’t necessarily want you to hear, but you never falter to ask clarifying questions when you don’t understand something, and I love that about you.

We have a playdate every week that we call “Thursdays with Robin” with your new friend Walker and a bunch of our old friends. I met Robin at my water aerobics class while pregnant with Everett. Robin’s 4 year old son, Walker, and you became fast friends but fight like brothers. You two are pretty hilarious to watch play video games together, too. Walker likes to stand as he plays and jumps up and down, and you like to try to boss each other around. Me, Robin, Leah, Brittany, Ashley, and occasionally others get together every week to do lunch and let you guys destroy the house. (Sometimes the house has actually been damaged- like you guys broke your curtain rod trying to launch off of your windowsill onto the bed and have almost broken the gate at the top of the stairs. I’ve had to install childproof door knob covers to keep you out of your room during playdates, and we’ve thankfully moved on to warmer weather with lots of outside time now.) You really enjoy the social time, and you even don’t put up a fight to clean up the loft before your friends come over. You’ve begun to embrace clean up time a little better too since you want the help. If you don’t help when it’s time to clean up, I let your friends go home without helping and make you do it yourself. You’ve caught on quickly to that, and you do much better now.

You love telling Daddy or I that we are “the best!” or “the worst!” and you’re very dramatic, sometimes declaring “this is the worst day ever!” when you stub your toe. You’re a very emotional kid since brother was born. You do this super annoying WAHHHHHHHH thing that drives us up a wall, but we haven’t been able to break you of it yet. We keep reminding you “stop overreacting, you’re not dying…” and that seems to help you come back to reality most of the time. You used to be a tough cookie when it came to falls and stuff, but now everything is the end of the world. Not sure why, but that’s just where you’re at now, I guess. I love that you are sensitive in some ways because it makes you more empathetic to others, but the overly sensitive and quick to anger and frustration is frustrating for everyone. We’re still learning and working on how to get you to slow down and keep trying when you fail at things. I know that’s not easy; heck, that’s really not much easier even as an adult. We’re working on that together.

At your end of year review with your teacher, Miss Debbie, she said that she’s never heard a vocabulary like yours- that your vocabulary is huge, and that you’re a very smart cookie. You haven’t mastered a ton of letters or letter sounds yet for reading, but you’re definitely trying, and you do know quite a few. I love how you sound out sounds already, “buh, buh, buh, B! Bubble! Bandit! Bear!” and that you recognize letters and numbers out in public. I also love how you still love love love to make up stories at night. Your recent stretch has been about a racoon named Bandit who eats “everyyythiiiiing”. Daddy specializes in Bandit stories with you.

You and Daddy have become stuck like glue together since brother was born. You’ve begun favoring Daddy, saying, “I want Daddy!” and “You’re mean! Daddy doesn’t yell at me!” (Daddy does yell at you, but he’s only with you a few hours a day and on weekends because he works…) And while it hurts my feelings, I know that it’s important that you feel supported by Daddy when I’ve lost my patience and mind by the end of the day, and my increased attention to your now mobile brother has left you craving more one on one attention, which only Daddy can really provide right now. I will say that since brother turned about 6 months old, you and I have warmed back up to each other quite a bit. I have always loved you, but you really didn’t want anything to do with me for a while. You weren’t very snuggly; you didn’t even bother trying to vie for my attention. Now, though, there are days where I can’t get you to stop trying to climb on top of me while I’m trying to nurse your brother.

It took some time, but you’ve eased into your big brother role a little more comfortably now. You still get too rough, and you tell me, “I want brother to be grown up now,” so that you can wrestle with him. I feel like I say, “GET OFF OF HIM!” about twenty times a day. I don’t know what it is about your brother, but you just seem to have this need to climb on top of him or hug him without letting go all. the. freaking. time. And what makes it hard is that your brother finds you hilarious. You eat that up big time. You are his hero, and the way he looks at you just melts my heart. He loves you SO much. I think that’s why it’s so frustrating to me when you take advantage of that and get rough, which makes my mama bear protectiveness appear. You can be really really good with him though. You’ve been really helpful to the sitters when we’ve had them, and you can distract him, sing to him, play with him very nicely when you feel like it. You asked for a brother for a long time, and I think it’s safe to say that you don’t regret that. It’s obvious that you love him very much, even when you’re being a turd to him.

You traveled a lot this past year to two very different places. In the spring, we went to New Jersey to see Uncle Aaron and play in the ocean. You love Uncle Aaron so much, and you were just extremely tickled that you got to see his house and stay there instead of seeing him at Mimi and Poppa’s. We went to an aquarium, played on the beach, ate ice cream, went to the Atlantic City Boardwalk where a Bachelorette Party thought you were the funniest and most adorable thing when you started dancing on the boardwalk. It was a long drive there and back in the car, but you did an amazing job.

Then, in the fall after brother was born, we went to Disney World. It was your first trip, and you had so much fun riding a bunch of different rides and meeting characters. You were so nervous before meeting Mickey that you said you had to go potty, and we almost stepped out of line to find one, but I convinced you to say hi first, and you did a great job. You loved the Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train roller coaster (your first roller coaster!) at Magic Kingdom, didn’t stay awake for long for the fireworks on the last night, and enjoyed our Cars themed suite and the pool at the resort just as much as some of the theme parks. You were a trooper waiting in line forever for the Frozen ride, only to have it shut down, and we had to come back the next day. You did an incredible job of never wandering off, too. I was very impressed with your behavior on that trip. You had so much fun, and Grammy came with us, which you loved, too.

You’re going to be spending a week away with most of your grandparents this summer, which is a huge trip for you. We’re going to Gulf Shores with all of Daddy’s side of the family, too, and you can’t wait for the beach time! You’re enjoying summer camp again this summer, and although we’re still struggling to get you to listen and follow directions, when you’ve had enough rest (you gave up naps a few months ago) you’re a great listener and  big helper. I hope to see more of the latter as you move further into being 4.

I love you, my Lucas,

Momma

Dear Firstborn

Dear Firstborn,

I had it in my head that because you were so excited about the impending arrival of your brother, that you would have a very smooth transition to his existence in our house.

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You would tell every stranger we met that you were going to be a big brother. That momma had a baby in her belly. You even asked when you could have a baby in your belly…

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You were sweet and helpful and concerned. You hugged my belly and said, “I love you brother!” and melted me into a puddle on the ground on the daily with how much you couldn’t wait to hold your baby “on the couch with a pillow” as you reminded me. But I was so wrong…

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It started about a week before your brother was born and continued for about two months after. You became a total shit.

 

Every day, you would do something that made me scream inside my head (and sometimes out loud)

“WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”

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Do you see that face? The jutted out chin, the scrunched nose? It’s a warning face. This was about a second before you pressed your face hard into your brother’s and made him cry, effectively rendering him awake for the rest of his newborn session. #brotherlylove

You’ve been doing things that you learned a LONG time ago not to do.

Pull the dogs ear? Yup.

Pee on the floor purposely? Yup.

Draw on the wall with marker? Yup.

Pinch your brother out of frustration? YUP.

Pull the pacifier out of your brother’s mouth after I’d just gotten him to sleep? YUP.

Make a meme worthy mess all over the toilet and half the bathroom with your trainer that you suddenly started pooping in EVERY MORNING? YUP.

Little things, big things, things in between: your MO every single day was to drive me absolutely bat-shit crazy over stupid stuff! And I just wanted to cry (and sometimes did) because

“WHERE HAS MY SWEET BABY BOY GONE?!”

And that’s not to say that you weren’t sweet to your brother sometimes because you were. Looking back, it was probably more than I felt like at the time. I was super hyper aware of your intensity, and it scared me. I was in preprogrammed postpartum mama-bear mode, and it was my sole job to keep your brother alive. You were a threat to that sometimes, and it scared the crap out of me.

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We gave you attention, probably more deliberately and more often than before brother was born, but it was to no avail. You were going to adjust in your own time, and apparently “adjusting” to you meant losing your damn mind and regressing beyond what any of us expected.

My entire focus the week before Everett was born was consumed with intense nesting and trying every gentle approach possible to getting him OUT of my body earthside. And from the minute he was born, all of my physical attention turned to recuperating and keeping him alive through nursing and bonding and diaper changes. Your father took over as the sole parent for nap and bedtime routine with you so that I could rest and nurse and figure out life with two at my own pace. You and Daddy bonded over Legos, and he even taught you how to play a video game on the Xbox (two of your new favorite things to do together every day when he comes home after work now).

And even though I tried to have one on one time with you too, you wanted very little to do with me from the minute you met your brother in the hospital.

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You didn’t want to get up on the hospital bed to take a photo; you didn’t want to snuggle with me in the recliner at home when Daddy was holding Everett; you didn’t want to play with me, only Dad.

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And when Dad had to go back to work after his two weeks off (yes, we are SO beyond lucky to have had that much time with him) and your grandma had gone home the week after that, I was all alone with the both of you, and I was terrified. My temper with you had short circuited, especially when it came to your brother. I didn’t know how I would keep my cool when it was just the three of us at home all day.

I drilled it into you, “When the baby is sleeping, then we can play. Don’t wake the baby!” Because every single time I finally got him in the napper sound asleep, you would suddenly feel the need to go and touch him or shake the bassinet or pull the pacifier from his mouth ON PURPOSE, and then I would have to calm and rock and nurse all over again, and then I didn’t feel like playing with you at all because I was pissed off at the way you’d deliberately disobeyed me and upset your brother. And then, I would feel guilty and fall apart in tears the minute your father got home because I couldn’t believe you were acting that way or talking back to me the way you were (you’re only 3 after all!) and I couldn’t stand you… and I couldn’t stand myself for feeling that way about you. Momma guilt ate me alive when I was already so tired, so emotional, so drained from healing and being the sole sustenance of another human being on beyond broken sleep. I thought things would never get better.

So, why am I telling you all this? To let you know that if someday you have children of your own, it does get better.

Eventually, it clicked. Eventually, you became helpful instead of harmful, and we fell into our rhythm again. Eventually, I didn’t want to lose my mind every time you did something, and I learned to give you ways to help instead of reprimanding you for every misstep. Eventually, you crawled up into my lap, heavy and sweet and suddenly this humongous boy, no longer my baby, with legs far too long and a complete absence of the downy soft hair and intoxicating baby smell that you used to have, and you hugged me and told me you loved me, and sat there with me for an entire episode of Daniel Tiger, just the two of us, the way it used to be, and the way it never would truly be again. And we sat there, absorbed in the moment, and I held you tight and told you how much I loved you and welcomed back my sweet boy.

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Love,

Your very tired but much less stressed out now Momma

 

From Toddler to Big Boy

Dear Lucas,

It’s been a long time since I’ve written, and for that, I’m very sorry. You’re now 3 years and 4 months old. You see last year I fell into a bit of a depression over our struggles to conceive again. We so wanted to give you a sibling, and it just wasn’t happening. I had a lot of testing done, a lot of bloodwork, a lot of failure, and I just sort of disappeared for a bit emotionally/mentally, going into necessity mode to get by. You did so much changing and growing and learning in that time, too, and I kick myself for not being as present as I should have been during that time. Mom guilt, for real.

We successfully did IUI in December and got pregnant. It took me awhile to come out of the fog I had been in, but as things got more real, I felt more stable and was able to be more excited than scared. We told you at Christmas by letting you open a set of blankets and explaining they would be for your baby who would be born next summer. You didn’t really get it at first, but then you were stoked for the idea. You kept saying you wanted a sister (I thought for sure it was a girl), and when we found out it was a brother, you were very upset for about an hour before being excited about a brother. You’ve come up with all kinds of names for him, namely Donut, Dory, Calvin, and Reindeer. We were stuck between Oliver and Owen for a long time, and you voted for Oliver or “Ollie”. You said, “I’m gonna cook him and eat him!” to grammy and your summer camp teacher in June, and they laughed so now you tell everyone that’s your plan. (You’re SUCH a class clown! You love to make people laugh and get a reaction out of them.)

You love to look into my belly button or shine the flashlight there or talk into my belly button, as if that’s a direct line to brother. It warms my heart and makes me laugh. I just melt when you say “bruverr” when talking to him or hugging or patting my belly. Most of the time you pretty much ignore my belly, except to comment, “Where did your lap go?” or you try to climb over me or onto me or ask me to pick you up, and I have to remind you that I can’t. We made you a big brother box complete with baby supplies so you can be our big helper. I hope you’ll be as excited about him when he’s here as you are now. We’ve been trying to give you a lot of personalized attention (without over doing it, but trust me, you’ve gotten way more treats this past month than the entire summer) and inform you as much as possible about what’s going on and what you can expect.

We had to have a discussion about the difference between boys and girls again (because of course you’ve forgotten) when we read the book Hello, Baby! about childbirth from the perspective of a little boy witnessing his mother’s homebirth. The illustrations led you to ask me about 6 hours after we read it, “Momma, why in Hello Baby did that baby come out his momma’s butt?” I eventually found a non-scary or graphic water birth video to show you of a baby being born in the water as shot from above so that you could see baby was indeed not coming out the butt but also not a full visual of her vagina in the process. You’ve been very aware of your body since then, reminding me that, “I am a boy. I have a penis. Daddy is a boy. He has a penis. You are a guurl. You have a jie-nuh!” Surprisingly, you haven’t asked how baby got in there, and so we’ll leave that for another time. This did, however, open the door for better discussions on body autonomy. You’ve learned the song, “My body’s nobody’s body but mine” and we are sure to point out “respecting other people’s bodies and space” and mirroring that for you as well, even with little things like not tickling you once you say stop, etc.

No longer my toddling 2 year old, you’ve morphed into a running, jumping, climbing 3 year old little boy with a vocabulary that astounds even the most remotest of strangers. I can’t tell you how often I get asked by cashiers, “How old is he!?” after only two minutes of conversation with you. You’re so congenial and welcoming and friendly to everyone. “Hi! What’s your (her, his, dare (their)) name? I’m Wookuss!” “Want ta doyn (join) us?” When we went to the zoo you would say to passersby “Want to join us?” as we were sitting on the bench. 🙂 Sometimes you’ll say (usually rather loudly) “I don’t like that guy” about someone randomly, and we have to have a conversation about speaking in lower voices and saying kind things. Just the other day at the Indiana State Fair you saw a very tall, larger woman with an afro (a hairstyle I don’t think you’ve seen before in person) and said, “LOOK AT THAT BIG HAIRY MONSTER!” with genuine surprise and goofiness, and we had to quietly explain to you how unkind your words were to the listener even though it was meant as an observation based on your limited experiences (obviously we used simplistic terms though). Thank God, I don’t think she heard you, just like the cashier the other day at Kohls when you said loudly upon approaching, “I don’t like her. She’s weird.” *insert eye-roll here*

That being said, now that we are policing your words, you’ve begun policing ours, and let me tell you: you have ears like a friggin’ bat. I’ll whisper something to Daddy WAY across the house, and you’ll hear me. “DON’T SAY ‘STUPID’!” “DON’T SAY ‘I DON’T CARE!'” “IT’S NOT NICE TO SAY WEIRD!” However, I’ll be two feet from you and ask you to do something, and suddenly you’re deaf. We’re trying to teach you context, though, especially with like “I don’t care” and “weird” because you can apply “weird” to things but not people; you can say, “I don’t care” as in “I don’t mind” but not as in “your opinions don’t matter to me”. Context is a difficult thing for a 3 year old to understand, but you’ve picked up on it quite nicely and now use the excuse, “I say it in a different way,” or “I mean it in a different way.” You’ve also skirted the issue a few times by saying, “I just talkin’ about it. I not sayin’ it.” Too. Damn. Smart.

Back at the end of December, we conquered two huge steps in moving you officially from toddlerhood to being a “big boy”: giving up your paci and removing the side rail to your crib to make it into a toddler bed. Reading “Pacifiers are Not Forever” pretty much sealed the deal for you- it was not that bad of a struggle at all except when waking at night for a week or two. You would have a sip of water instead, and eventually you didn’t wake at all or would fall back asleep if you did.

I was so worried about removing the railing of your crib, but you did really well with that too. It wasn’t until many months later when we moved you into your “big boy room” and into the queen sized, low-to-the-ground IKEA bed (where you also insisted on the railing being present for a few months) that we had problems with you getting out of bed and trying to come into our room. We solved that problem by putting a child safety handle on the doorknob on the inside of your room for a few weeks (I know, traumatizing, tell your therapist it’s all my fault) until you learned the rules- only get up to go to the potty and then get back in bed.

We finally conquered the potty just after you turned three- it took a few months. You’ll gladly pee outside, but getting you to run inside always was a problem. You’d run to the potty at home, but when out and about, we’d have like a two second warning to get you to the toilet if in the car seat. I have never cursed so much in my life than the number of times I had to take apart and wash that car seat in those few months. (*Side note: you’re still rear facing because you’re still just barely over 30 lbs and you don’t mind it a bit* #rearfacingtilhighschool.) I basically started by always taking you when you woke up in the morning, before we left the house, once we got to where we were going, before we left where we had gone, and once we got home- before nap, after nap, before the tub, after the tub, and before bed. Eventually, you got the hang of it (bribery with M&Ms in my old gumball machine included) but pooping in the potty was a whole other issue.

You’d purposely run and hide. PURPOSELY. Like, I know you knew that I knew you needed to go. You’d tell me no, then hide and poop. If it got quiet, I knew what was going on. Finally, I found the magic carrot: tsum tsums. What are tsum tsums? They’re these little vinyl figures of Disney characters in the shape of what can only be described as hamsters. But you’d seen them in blind bag opening and egg opening videos on Kids Ooooh (You) Tube (you love watching other kids playing with toys or opening these giant hollowed out plastic eggs filled with tiny trinkets- it’s so bizarre) and wanted one for yourself. So, the ultimate bribery began.

You sold your police station/fire station dollhouse and used the money to buy some toys at the store including a blind bag with a tsum tsum in it. You loved it. You wanted more. So, I told you, “You poop on the potty for that day, and you can have a tsum tsum.” Guess what? You never pooped in your pants after that. You got a tsum tsum each day until we ran out of tsum tsums for about a week and a half. Then you earned stickers on a chart for two weeks and earned the toddler sized outdoor slide you’ve been asking for for months for the backyard. Now you’re simply earning stickers with no reward in sight and most of the time forgetting about stickers altogether. We still of course make a huge deal out of you pooping on the potty successfully, as you joyously call out, “I POOPED MOMMY!!!” or “DADDY! I POOOOOOPED!” so that we can say, “GOOD JOB, BUDDY! I’M SO PROUD OF YOU!” and you say, “I’m so proud of me, too!”  The only time you’re in a diaper/pull-up is at nap and bedtime. You still are completely hit or miss there about waking up dry, and with the baby coming, I’ve got zero energy or patience to deal with wet sheets, so we’re letting it be for now.

You finished out last school year at Downey, and you were so sad to not be going back. Miss Egan had been an amazing teacher, and you not only grew to be friends with the girl you used to butt heads with, but you developed some great friendships with several of the other kids too. You were so sad this summer that you didn’t get to see your “Downey friends” and kept asking “We go back to Downey to play? Please?”Broke my heart. I did try more than once to get the other parents to get together at our house with the kids, but everyone was too busy. You did end up seeing a few of them by the end of the summer at a birthday party, but that was it. You finished out the year knowing all your shapes, how to recognize your name, follow directions, clean up after yourself, follow a routine, and learn to sing songs as a group. I loved your time there, even though volunteering that much was difficult and frustrating at times, it was such a wonderful community, and I’m so glad we did that for your first year of school.

We signed you up for summer camp at your new school to get you acclimated to the school, teachers, and possibly some kids who would be in your class. You went from June until school started a few weeks ago. Drop offs became tearful after a few weeks- you wanted me to stay and play. The bigger my belly has gotten, the more emotional and clingy you have become. I’m not sure if I should chalk it up to the impending changes, your age, or the new school. But since school has started, you’ve had zero problems with drop off. So, who knows?

You do like your new school, and I’m constantly amazed at how much you’re absorbing. You know so many new songs now, and it makes my heart soar to hear you singing, “Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, there are seasons-four in all. Weather changes, rain and snow, leaves fall down and flowers grow,” or “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! It’s time to sing the alphabet song!” You now know the entire alphabet, although lately you keep saying “H-R- J-K” instead of “I”. You can count from 1-20, but you often get lost after 17 for a bit. Your one to one correspondence for counting is excellent- the other day at IU when we went back for the 3 year old portion of the sleep study (studying the correlation between self-regulation and adequate sleep) you counted 7 chairs in the hallway and blew me away. You know a few words in Spanish already thanks to school (hola, si, non, senora), and you’ve begun recognizing letters by sight and associating their sounds! We still read three books each night, tell a story, talk about your day, and sing two songs before bed. It makes for a long routine, but I know it’s definitely part of your literacy development that has continued to boom linguistically as well.

You still nap almost every day and are a monster if you don’t. You napped from 1-2:30 at summer camp twice a week, and now that you’re going three days a week to school, you easily nap on those days from 3:30/4-6:15/6:30 every day and go up for bath and begin bedtime routine around 8:45 so that you’re asleep by 10. It sounds late, but Dad doesn’t get home until 6/6:30, so that way you guys actually get to see each other and spend time together during the week. Plus, you don’t wake up until 8:30 most days if I’m lucky, and I like it that way because I’m a night owl.

Your favorite things to do lately are build with your Duplo Legos. You are incredibly imaginative, “Look, mommy! I made a diving board! It’s a boat and a car! It’s a treehouse! I made a tower!” and sure enough, they look just like those things! You love to cart your piggy bank coins around and dump them into different containers, play with your tsum tsums, and bounce on the couch (even though you’re not supposed to). Your new favorite gross motor activity is jumping- constantly jumping, one foot, two feet, backwards, forward, on things, off of things, etc. You also like to practice balancing on one foot.You love playing games on the iPad and watching Kids YouTube, but we try to limit that as much as possible to long car trips or short periods of quiet time at home.

Your independence in putting on and taking off your own clothes and shoes has also excelled in the past few months. You can now fully undress and dress yourself except putting on your shoes- you usually need help there. And you love to help me make your food- making oatmeal or mac’n’cheese, getting a snack out of the pantry or fridge by yourself (you figured out that if you open the freezer door-easy to open, you can then open the fridge door- which is harder to open). When I do baking, you love to help make cookies and measure ingredients. You learned the hard way that raw flour doesn’t taste so great haha. I love seeing you standing up on the step stool helping me put silverware away in the drawer or wearing my Grandma D’s old blue apron with the red trim and strawberry embroidered on it, criss crossed in the back so it fits you, kind of, as we bake together. It doesn’t happen often, but I love it when it does.

But you’re 3. The 2s were not terrible until we got closer to 3. Three has been difficult. Two and a half to three and a half I hear is the hardest, and I’m finding that to be true. I hear 4 is magical. But really, it’s not been so terrible. You don’t throw tantrums in stores or even at home, really. I’ve never seen you throw yourself on the floor and scream. Maybe a handful of times you’ve fallen down to the floor while crying, but it was out of exasperation/exhaustion/sadness, not screaming uncontrollably in a fit of rage. You’ve definitely learned how to push our buttons, struggle to listen and follow directions at times, and sometimes talk back, but you’re learning. You also cry easily. We yell easily. We’re all working on it. We all have tempers, we’re all Tauruses. We do time-out when needed- which is really time in because I’ll sit with you until you are calm and then we discuss and move forward. During a particularly nasty period of you refusing to nap this summer, you got so defiant that you were spanked. We both cried. I apologized. It only happened a few times when I’d really lost my shit. You weren’t actually physically hurt, but emotionally we both were scarred. I haven’t lost my cool to that extent since then. It still haunts me. I don’t ever ever want you to fear me. I want you respect me. There is a huge difference. You now only get a swat on the bottom if you’re putting yourself in danger to wake you up to what’s going on more than anything. You lose privileges or get time-ins instead.

Most of the time, though, we are so lucky to have such a smart and helpful little boy. You run and get tissues for friends when they are sad or crying. You put your hand on their shoulder and sing, “Grown-ups come back!” if they’re sad their parents have left. You hug me and tell me you love me. You look at me and tell me, “Your beufull, mommy,” or “I wike your dwess, mommy! You look beuffull!” with sincerity and sweetness and love. You notice things like when I wear new earrings or an outfit I haven’t worn in a long time or don’t usually wear. You ask others, “You want to play with me?” or “Let’s go play!” both kids your age and grown-ups like Daddy and I or your baby sitters or family/cousins who are around. I still love the sweetness of your agreeable, “Sure!” and “O-kay!” and you even sweetly say, “No, thank you!”

At the end of the day, you’re still my sweet, snuggle-ruckus. My towheaded, blue eyed, sweet baby boy- you definitely make life worth living. You just want comfort in this rapidly changing house of yours. And I’m scared of not being able to be a good mom to both of you at the same time. I’m worried you won’t get the attention you need. I’m already feeling guilty that you have to share me soon. But I know you’ll grow and learn and change from having a sibling as much as I will for having two kids. Please know that I love you so much, and no matter what, you’ll always be my first baby. I hope we navigate this time together well. ❤

Love,

Momma

Growing through Grief

My Lucas B,

I can’t believe it’s been four months since I last wrote you. You keep me busy constantly- always getting into things (the water in the sink, the candy dish, whatever you can find counter surfing, the movie cabinet), climbing where you’re not allowed (using chairs to get up to counters), making huge messes (dumping every container of toys you own), and always telling me, “I’m a hungee boy, mommy!”

Your language has just exploded. Every day you’re repeating and using new phrases. We really have to watch what we say around you now because of this. When you have particularly awful poops, I always said, “Phewee! You stink awful!” Now you tell me, “Stink awfuw, mommy!” You always say, “Suuhhrr!” (“Sure!”) with lots of enthusiasm and a big smile when I ask you if you want to do something. You also almost always say, “Peese, mommy!” and “Tank you, mommy!” with equal enthusiasm. Your new favorite question is, “Whyyyyyy?” and you always ask it with the same intonation, starting low, rising in the middle, and falling back to low again. You started asking that question after hanging out with Maddie.

Your hair is getting thicker by the month, and I haven’t cut it since mid-summer. It’s getting a little ridiculous, but I can’t imagine cutting it and taking away your babyness that comes with too long hair. It’s still brilliantly blonde- almost white in the summer time. As the fall as progressed it’s deepened to a beautiful honey blonde, still so baby soft. Your eyes have remained blue with flecks and halos of white, and I think they’ll stay that way now. They do seem to change a bit with your mood and the weather. It’s interesting. Sometimes I see bits of green in them, but not usually. You’re still in 2T clothes, although we just changed out your pjs for 3Ts since you’re beginning to get taller. Your feet have gotten bigger for sure: your 5s are getting too small.

You haven’t potty trained yet, but you will pee in the toilet if we put you there, and you will sometimes poop in the toilet if we give you “piiivasee, mommy!” I was letting you run around naked in the backyard a few days ago (because you’ll pee outside without question- you think it’s hilarious, “mommy! I peed! I peed ah-genn!”) and you squatted to pee and accidentally pooped. That was fun. We flushed it down the toilet, but you kept telling me later that day that you wanted to poop outside. Oi.

This summer you’ve climbed sand dunes at Sleeping Bear (while we camped in a cabin for Poppa and Eesa’s wedding reception celebration), hiked up to the top of Pyramid Point with Daddy and I, watched fireworks, touched a snake, and developed a tendency to lick things: a stranger at the park, the vet, a stranger at the hospital, us, your friends, a red-tailed boa constrictor at the Silly Safari animal show at Becknology days, a goat at the petting zoo at the fall festival near Wabash, and of course the dogs. You’ve jumped into the pool by yourself (a lot), learned to swim on your own wearing your Puddlejumpers life jacket/swimmies combo thing, learned to make sand sculptures/castles in your sandbox, discovered how to climb the furniture, played in your playhouse with friends and alone or with Daddy and I, discovered how to put a dvd into the Xbox player, figured out how to turn on the hose, learned to water the garden, helped me pick produce from our garden, helped me plant our garden back in the spring, developed a love for running back and forth in the backyard with the dogs as they bound around you happily as you shriek, and developed a love for baking with mommy and putting on temporary tattoos. It’s been a busy summer and a very chaotic fall, full of changes and tragedy, but you’ve taken it all in stride.

You’re growing into such an independent little boy. You’ve stayed with Grammy or Mimi and Grandpa or Papa and Eesa several times this summer and fall while Dad and I have gone out on dates or on vacation for our anniversary together. You have done a great job being apart from us, reminding yourself that, “Groooowwwn-ups come baaack!” (A Daniel Tiger song from your favorite show, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (a cartoon spin off of Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood)). You just spent an entire three day weekend with Mimi and Grandpa riding in the combine harvesting beans, riding on the 4-wheeler, hanging out with your cousins, and swimming at the Y. You came back a very tired little boy, oh so snuggly and loving. When I picked you up in my arms, you flung your arms around my neck and laid your head in the space between my neck and shoulder and just laid there limply, letting me soak you in, your heavy, sweet little body cradled around me. You laid like that for several minutes before saying, “Missed you, mommy! Love you!” I may not know what path I’m supposed to take, but I always know that I was made to be your mommy, and that job is my favorite, always.

You’re going to nursery school two days a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays for two hours a day. It’s a co-op, so I’m there sometimes volunteering in the classroom. It’s interesting because when I volunteer you tend to have a lot more emotional instability than when I’m not. However, you’ve done an excellent job with drop off. Not once have you cried. From the very first day, you have been one of only two kids who haven’t cried at all at drop off. You hug and kiss me goodbye and march right on in to play. When I come back at the end of class, you give me a huge smile and say surprised and happy, “Mommy! You came back!” and rush to give me a hug.

I’m so proud of you and how well you’re doing with school. Your favorite things to do are to paint and to roll the Cookie Monster train toy down the slide. You also love playing at the “park!” (playground). You came into school already knowing your colors (ROYGB, purple, pink, black, and white) and we’ve continued to work on your counting every time we walk up the stairs. You’ve been stuck starting at 4 instead of 1, but you’ll count from 4 to 13 no problem. Recently, you’ve started counting at 3, and I know you know 1 and 2 because you’ll also count 1-3 or backwards from 5. You know some of your letters, but that’s what I’ll be working with you on a lot this year at home. We always sing the abc’s when you wash your hands, and you always say, “abx….(indistinguishable) …g!…. mnop!…rx …v…x…z!”

Socially, you are working on trying to resolve conflict using your words and not your hands/teeth. You’ve already been corrected for pushing and trying to bite someone out of frustration. There’s another little girl in class who you butt heads with every day. You’re both very strong willed. I’m hoping that by the end of the semester, you two will get along and maybe even be playmates. Emotionally, you still get really frustrated very easily, clenching your fists, wanting to hit, and giving me what Dad and I like to call the “angry duck face” where you pout your lips out and scrunch up your nose, furrow your eyebrows, and give me an angry face. You’ve also recently started grabbing the front of the offender’s shirt and dragging them towards you before knocking them down. You also try to grab hold of my arm or chest or face with your entire hand to clench your fist and pinch/scratch me. Ohhhh it makes me SO angry! I say, “OW! LUCAS! WE DON’T HIT/PINCH/SCRATCH/GRAB! We use our hands for nice, gentle touches!” And you cock your head to the side and say, “Sowry, mommy.” You also respond well to, “Take a deep breath,” and, “When you feel so mad that you wanna roar, take a deep breath and count to four” (also from Daniel Tiger). When you’re tired or overstimulated, you get angry and physical very quickly. When you’re rested, you’re a happy and very patient and kind little boy. Respecting your sleep schedule has gone a long way at preventing behavior problems.

You still nap once a day from 2:30/3:00pm until 5:30/6:00pm. When you don’t get that nap, you are a beast. You are hysterical, and you have mood swings that make me want to tear my hair out. You’re still sleeping through the night most nights, sometimes waking once to get a drink of water or to have us give you a new paci since you’ve lost yours. You still only get your paci at nap/bedtime and in the car, but we’re working on trying to figure out how to wean you from it soon. Your bedtime routine is the same as it has been (and the same as the Daniel Tiger song as it turns out) “Bathtime, pjs, brush teeth, story and song and off to bed.” Except now, your bath is in your bathroom tub instead of our garden tub or sometimes sharing a shower with Daddy. We’re teaching you how to wash your own hair and body, and you’re doing a great job with learning. And we’ve finally in the past month removed your sleep sack from your routine. You won’t lay under the covers, though, so we have to dress you in warm pjs and put socks on you. Also, after reading stories with Daddy and sometimes one with me, you and I “talk about our day?” (as you request each night) and then sometimes sing together before you say, “bed” or “lay down” for me to lay you in your crib and cover you up. My grandma died last month, and at her funeral luncheon we all sang “You Are My Sunshine.” Since then, that’s been one of our favorite songs to sing together. Then one night, you all of a sudden sang the entire song to me by yourself- you knew all the words! It amazed me!

We’ve had a lot of really stressful changes this summer. In August, we found and rescued Enzo from the local animal shelter. He’s a Pyrenees-Boxer mix and is very skittish around men. I think he must have been abused. He was definitely altered by his abandonment at the shelter, as he freaks out when I leave the house. He used to mark around the house, but he’s much better now and only chews things up if I don’t leave a bone for him to chew or the radio on. You loved having “two doggies!” and telling everyone about “Esso!” However, about a week after we got Enzo, Feeny started acting weird. He kept wincing and crying out if anyone bumped his nose. I thought maybe he had some sort of pain from having his dental cleaning done and took him to the vet. They put him on antibiotics just in case and an anti-inflammatory. He didn’t get better. Then one morning, he wouldn’t get up.

I finally convinced him and helped him down the stairs to the car. I lifted him into the car, left you with Paxton and his mom (our neighbors behind us) and took Feeny to the emergency vet. They kept him overnight and ran a CT scan. They found a very slightly herniated disc in his neck, put him on pain medicine, an anti-inflammatory, and strict crate rest (no stairs, no couch, no nothing) for a month.

A month went by, and he wasn’t any better. So, I left you with Colin and his mommy on a Friday and drove Feeny to Cincinnati to MedVet where he saw a neurologist. They said they didn’t think anything had gotten worse and to try cold laser therapy, took him off the anti-inflammatory to try a new one in a few days, and added some holistic medicines to his regimen. I left Saturday afternoon to go tutor and then went straight from there to Emily’s to go downtown for the GlowRun 5K in Indy. By the time I got home from the race around 11:30pm, Feeny was in his crate, not moving.

He couldn’t move his back legs and could barely move his front legs. Dad was so worried about him. I thought he was just being lazy or maybe was stiff from laying so long. I helped him out of his cage and practically carried him outside with Dad’s help. When we got him outside, we tried to get him to stand to go potty, and he just softly collapsed on the ground and didn’t move. I burst into tears and called the neurologist and his breeder to get advice. They both advised we get him to an emergency care center immediately. Dad and I carried him to the van using towels for slings. I hugged him and pet him and told him through my tears, “Don’t you die on me. I love you so much. We are going to take care of you. Dad is taking you to the hospital. Be a good boy.” Dad left after midnight on Saturday night to drive him to Cincinnati MedVet. I didn’t see him again after that.

Dad made sure he was checked in and stable before turning around and driving back home, getting home around 4am Sunday. All day Sunday, we waited for that phone call to tell us what was going on. They did another CT scan, suspected maybe meningitis, started him on the steroids. He was not moving much, but he was responsive. He still had feeling in his toes, which was a good sign. They did a dye injection and watched it travel his spinal cord. It seemed blocked at the one end. They did a spinal fluid draw, and it was yellowish brown and full of particles- it should be clear like water; it was tainted with old blood and cells.

My grandmother had died that Thursday, so you and I left the house that night and drove up to Papa and Eesa’s house. Dad stayed behind because he had to work Monday morning and to be closer to Feeny. We waited for the pathology reports.

Monday we went to my grandma’s viewing, and you asked me difficult questions, but I wasn’t going to lie to you.

“Who’s that?”

“That’s great grandma.”

“She sleeping?”

“No, honey, she’s dead.”

“Dead?”

“Yes, she died.”

“Whyyy?”

“Because she was very old and very sick and her body stopped working. We are here today celebrating her life. She is with God now. She’s alive in heaven. This is just her body here.”

“Whyyy?”

“Remember in The Lion King when Mufasa says, “When we die our body becomes the grass and the antelopes eat the grass…it’s the circle of life”? It’s like that. Great grandma’s body is going to become the flowers and grass.”

“Flowers? Ciiiirrrrcccllleeee! Cirrrrcllee of liiiiife!”

“That’s right.”

“I a hungee boy, mommy!”

“Okay, let’s go find you something to eat…”

After the viewing we went back to Poppa’s house for you to nap. While you were sleeping I got the phone call. The preliminary pathology reports and CT scan analysis by three different radiologists were in. There was blood in the spinal fluid and thousands more white blood cells than there should have been and lots of particles. They found a mass in Feeny’s brain- a tumor. Part of it had broken away and become lodged in his spinal canal- hence the blockage on the dye injection during the CT scan. They suspected cancer- a choroid carcinoma. There was no cure. No treatment was a viable option for him at this point. His condition was worsening.

Daddy rushed there after work to be with Feeny. We made the heartbreaking decision to try to wait until the final pathology reports came in in the morning before doing anything further, before putting him down. But when Dad got there and after he’d spent time petting Feeny and allowing me to Facetime with him while he was there so I could tell Feeny how much I loved him and how sorry I was that we didn’t know he was so sick, Feeny made the decision for us.

Dad stepped out to talk to the doctor and then to me on the phone about what we do next. After we’d decided to wait until the next morning for the full pathology report, he went back in to tell the doctor, and the doctor said Feeny was fading fast. His breathing had become very labored, and they wanted to intubate. Not wanting to put Feeny through further pain and suffering, we broke our hearts and decided to put him to sleep. I wanted to be there so badly, but I was 5 hours away, and I wasn’t going to make him suffer for me. Dad did what I wanted to do: he held Feeny and told him how much we all loved him, how much we would miss him, and told him he was a good boy, the best dog we’ve ever had. He held him as he passed.

I laid in the recliner in my dad’s living room and sobbed as you slept. How was I going to explain this to you? You knew that Feeny had been sick, but how could we explain that he died? He was only 5 years old. He was fine a few days ago to you. In the few days before we went to MedVet, Feeny had been unusually snuggly, loving on all of us, asking to be pet and hugged and loved. He bugged the tar out of me all day, thrusting his head between my arm and the computer keyboard so that my hand would rest on his head, doing the same by the couch. I think he knew. He kept giving you kisses too- something he rarely did unless you had food on you. He knew he needed to say goodbye, even though we had no idea that he had cancer, or that in a few days he would be gone forever.

The first few weeks after he died, Dad and I both cried a lot, though you mainly saw me cry since I’m home with you all day. You would gently reach your hands out and rest them on the sides of my face or neck and say sadly, “Mommy cryin? Feeny died? Feeny sick?” and I would have to explain all over again. You asked me, “Feeny sick?” or “Where Feeny go?” “Feeny comin’ home?” a lot for over a month. Each time I would answer you honestly, and then I would cry. I’m crying as I write this. We miss him so much. He was gone so suddenly.

Thank God we have Enzo. He’s made this transition easier. You two are starting to bond now, and you ask about Enzo more than Feeny now, but Enzo is skittish and won’t let you crawl on him or let you be physical with him much at all aside from quiet, gentle petting- although he is very gentle and tolerant of you, he usually runs and hides instead of enduring your behavior.

I hope you don’t forget Feeny, though I know you will, since you’re so young. But I’ll never forget him. I’ll never forget how careful he was around you- how much he loved you, how much he protected you, from the day we brought you home when he would cry with excitement and worry each time you made noise, to seeing him lay asleep next to your crib any chance he got. I’ll never forget how he let you climb all over him, pull on him, even ride him like a horse. You loved him so much, and he loved you. He was the best dog, and you two were buds from the very first day you met. We are going to scatter some of his ashes in his favorite place- the hiking trails in Brown County, and we’re going to bury the rest of his ashes and plant a tree atop them in his favorite place of all- Grandpa’s farm.

We’ve had so much change in this house in the past month and a half, so much sorrow, so much grief, so much pain. You’ve been dealing with it beautifully, but I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with it at all. Alongside with all of that, you keep asking me if I “have a baby in there yet?” and I don’t. We think we’ve figured it all out- after finding a specialist and getting lots of testing done. I’m on new medication to try to help, and I’m hoping we can tell you “yes” soon, but nothing is reliable. I so want you to be a big brother. I love watching you with your friend’s little siblings. You love babies. The first thing you do when you see a baby being worn or being carried in a carseat is to go over and kiss them and stroke the top of their heads and say, “Hi, baby!” It melts my heart. I hope you get to be a big brother someday. You would be phenomenal at it.

I love you, kiddo. You’re growing so fast and changing so much. I can picture you as a kindergartner now, and it just kills me. I know that’s a few years off, but I’m finally to the point where I really see your personality and language flourishing. You’re an astoundingly empathetic little boy, and your memory is just incredible. You remember everything. Nothing gets by you! I’m excited to see you continue to grow and change and learn this school year. It’s been a privilege since day one to be your momma, and that hasn’t changed one bit. You exhaust me with your enthusiasm for life, but it’s worth every minute of feeling tired just to see your light each day, my bringer of light.

Love,

Momma

“Runnin! Runnin!”

Oh my exhausting child,

Your energy is boundless, and your demands are endless! Now that you’re talking so well, I don’t have a choice but to give in when you say so sweetly (and often so seriously/desperately/angrily) “Mommy, play! MOMMY! PLAY!” Or “Mommy! Outside! Water! Sand! Play!” “Mommy, EAT!” “Mommy, snack!” You wake up in the morning, and the first thing you ask to do is “PLAY!” We play and play and play all day, sleep like a champ at naptime for up to 3 hours, and then play some more until bedtime. We’ve completely weaned (a very emotional time for us both, but we were both ready) and you’re going to bed with a slightly altered routine: bath/shower, lotion, pjs, sleep sack, blankie, brush teeth, paci, books with Daddy, and then rocking with mommy with water in a sippy cup (sometimes milk) and chatting about our day and sometimes singing together before laying down to sleep from 9:30pm-9:30am. This is the stage I never thought we’d reach. This is the stage people told me I’d never make it to as long as we were nursing. BUT WE DID. We did for several months before we quit nursing. (SO BOOYA “PEOPLE”! MY BABY SLEEPS! ALLLLLLL NIGHT LONG! He self soothes. He goes to bed on his own. He naps on his own. Every. Single. Day. For the most part anyways.) I never thought I’d get a full nights rest again, but here we are. Thank you, Lucas. Thank you.

I swear you pick up new words every day. You’re beginning to form sentences more easily and more frequently now. This evening at bedtime, you and I chatted about Mufasa from The Lion King. You said “Mufasa is a fahder. Daddy. Simba’s Daddy. Mufasa sad. Mufasa…dusty…sad. Simba sad.” I’m just astounded the things you recall and want to randomly talk about. Lately you’ve been getting so excited to say something that you stutter and can’t seem to move forward unless I have you take a deep breath and try again. There’s still so much that I don’t know what you’re saying; that frustrates us both so much and makes me feel so terrible. For example, you kept saying something about Mufasa that I couldn’t make out. You repeated yourself over and over and over again. I kept saying, “Uh-huh…” but you refused to move on until I guessed what you were saying. I finally said “feather?” instead of “father?” and you gave up on me.

You’re starting to repeat phrases too. Daddy taught you to say, “Mommy pretty!” to which I gush, “Thank you!!” and give you kisses, and you’ll repeat it over and over as long as my response is the same. He also, HOWEVER, taught you to say, “Mommy reedickiss (ridiculous)!” I turned the tables on that one. You say, “Daddy reedickiss (ridiculous)!” now too. You also say “Bess you!” (Bless you!) “Yeckum!” (Welcome!)  “What doin?” (What are you doing?) “Daddle Teeeeger! RAWR!” (Daniel Tiger! Rawr- when you want to watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood)

You copy habits too and are becoming so incredibly independent. When you spill something, you immediately run to the kitchen and grab the towel that hangs on the oven door handle, bring it to the mess, and sop it up. This is because that I what I had you help me do every time you PURPOSELY spilled something (like water all over the coffee table so you could play in it) and when you or I accidentally spilled something. I’d send you to fetch the towel, and now you do it on your own. It’s pretty cute. You say, “Oh, no! Towel! Cleeed up!” When it’s time to sit at the table for a meal, you say “Bib!” and pull one out of the drawer to put on before climbing into your booster. When we go outside, you try to turn on the hose, drag it out to the garden, and say, “Water garden!” You help me collect the mail; you throw your own garbage away (and sometimes my dishes, which I have to save); you pull out your own movie choices and know how to open the box and bring me the disc.

You pick out your “deeper!” (diaper) when you need changed, and you’re even getting in the habit of going on the potty a few times a day. You’ve added a potty break to your morning routine and your bedtime routine and occasionally before nap as well. “Potty! Go! I peed!” (You also instruct us out of whatever room you’re in when you need to poop in private “Mommy, kitchen!” “Daddy, go!”) You know how to brush your teeth (though we have to remind you to not chomp on the toothbrush and always double brush for you) and you even pick out your breakfast/lunch most days when given choices. You know where to find the snacks; you raid the pantry and the fridge and your diaperbag. You help “Cleed up!” and sing the “Clean Up Pick Up Put Away” song from Daniel Tiger or the “Clean Up” song from Barney (which you do not watch).

You know your name and how old you are and can tell people these things. You say “Uckiss! (Lucas)” and “TWO!” quite clearly. Speaking of numbers, that counting up the stairs thing has really paid off. You can easily count “1,2,3…4,5,6” and sometimes to ten. It’s pretty amazing. You know all your colors and tons of animal sounds. Next we need to work on letters.

You amaze me, little boy. I love seeing you learn and discover every day. From the “BUUUGS!” and “ANTS!” to the “THNAKES!” (snakes) that are really “WORMS!” and playing in your play house where you serve me grass ripped out of the earth and pretend it’s oranges or bananas from your store. I love how you hand me a character and say, “Hoed dit!” (hold it) so that I know which one I’m supposed to be. I love how you know all their names. I love how you aren’t afraid to play dress up or love your dolls or nurse your dolls or bring your dolls to me when they are “baby cry! baby cry!” and need to “baby newuss!” (nurse). I love that you love to “caher” (color) with “mockas and kayuns!” (markers and crayons) on “peep-er!” (paper).

You have this toe head full of white blonde hair that still isn’t coming in thick anywhere but up top and this full mouth of teeth and constantly scraped up knees because OH MY GOSH boy are you a clumsy walker! (“I fall! I fall!”) You are fast and can run for a really long time! I think you’re going to be a great track star or a wonderful baseball player.

You’re so full of personality and spirit and possibilities. I’ve never loved you more than I do now. Tomorrow will increase my love for you too, and the day after, and the day after, times infinity plus one plus an infinity. You’re awesome, Lucas.

Love,

Momma

The End of Nursing

Dear Lucas,

Let me start by saying I never EVER thought I would nurse this long. I used to think it was weird if moms nursed beyond a year. I learned that normal term nursing is not defined by a number but a child’s needs, and that despite what most people are comfortable sharing with others, a lot of moms nurse beyond the first year. I decided I wasn’t going to let everyone else’s agenda affect what I felt was right and needed for us. We made it 25 months in our nursing relationship.

For the past 7 months, you’ve really only nursed before nap and bedtime. Slowly, you’ve nursed less and less. I felt it was time. This has been an extremely emotional week for me, and it’s been rough for you to adjust too, especially in the early morning like this. Nursing has been your comfort when you’re scared (thunderstorms, your first boat ride) or hurt/sick (scraped knee, getting shots, feeling dehydrated from throwing up or having a fever) or feeling crummy (like having a hard time waking up after nap or bed). It’s been the best gift I’ve been able to give you, and I know I’ve been lucky to have had such great support in getting started (through a lot of pain early on due to latch issues) and continuing our nursing relationship for this long.

I’m thankful for the online groups and people who have dedicated their time and energy to normalizing breastfeeding in the public eye and giving me the courage to do the same, to my friend and labor and delivery nurse (Casey) and my lactation consultants at St. Francis, the IBLCs at Breastfeeding USA, supportive friends who have nursed alongside me (Emily and Stephanie) or before me (Crystal) leading the way to making me feel comfortable caring for my child without feeling like I had to hide, and most of all, your dad. Without his support and encouragement, especially in the beginning, we never would have made it this far. I still remember sitting in the car on the way home from the hospital, and him telling me with utmost sincerity and emotion in his eyes, “Thank you.” I said, “For what?” He said, “For working so hard to give our son the best nutrition you can. I’m so proud of you. I know this isn’t easy. I know you’re in a lot of pain. So, thank you.”

I’m sad to officially close this chapter of our relationship, but I’m so proud of myself for breaking down social barriers and caring for you in the way that was right for us. I love you, my sweet little (no longer) nursling boy.


Love,

Momma‪