Well, here we are. Just four days shy of your fourth birthday. Four times around the sun, sweetcake. Four rounds of Seattle’s cherry blossoms, four Summers of blackberry-picking and ferry riding, four Halloweens, four Thanksgivings, four Christmases and now four birthdays. When we moved into this house in the early months of 2012, you had only recently crossed over from being my baby to being a wobbly toddler. You had such trouble navigating our new stairs, you napped every afternoon in the upstairs closet and you were just barely big enough to sit on the stools at the new counter with your big brother. I remember on your 2nd birthday just a few months later feeling like we had entered a whole new phase of life. New house, new preschool and new season of parenting with my two walking, talking, playground-playing boys.
Now we cross yet another threshold together. Now you are so much bigger and those early days with you in this house are firmly in my rearview mirror. Papa remarked the other day that you still bear some of the signposts of your younger years. And it’s true. We delight in that rotund little belly and your legs that still have that satisfying squish. Your lisp and your mixed up pronouns. But we know that those, too, are fleeting and soon we’ll be scratching our heads and saying, “When did he start pronouncing it remember instead of duh-memba?” and “When did he stop asking for hold you‘s?”
As we approach the big day I’ve started wondering about your first memories. When you are 15, 50, 75, what will be your earliest recollections? Up until this point in your life the memories have been mostly mine. And Papa’s. We have been the memory-keepers and the witness-bearers of these your first few years. One of my first memories from my childhood is looking at my reflection in the oven door at my childhood home while I talked on the phone to my dad who was out of town. I also remember my mom putting on my socks. In both I think I was about 4 years old. So now that you are four I’m guessing you will probably be able to recall some small glimpses of your life now in the years to come. Every day I find myself wondering, will this be it? Or maybe this? There is, of course, no way for me to know but I can’t help but wonder.
Will it be this morning when I leaned over the edge of your bed and rubbed your back until you woke up?
Will it be “counting your whole body” – your favorite me and mama thing to do together, where I count each part of your body? (“Soft brown hair… one forehead… two beautiful blue eyes… one nose…”)
Will it be watching the herons outside the bedroom window last Sunday?
Will it be playing “giraffe-y” and “bucking bronco” with Papa and brother every night before bed?
Will it be helping out in the kitchen (please no, those haven’t been my finest hours)?
Will it be reading Time for a Hug?
Maybe it will be a funny memory, like last Friday when I found you hugging a stuffed pheasant at an estate sale. Or your dinnertime prayers? Or yesterday at Alki beach when there was no bathroom and we had to improvise with some discreet dangling and a log and, and… you know what? Let’s skip that one. It wasn’t a pretty picture. And besides, it didn’t work.
Regardless of what it is, I hope your first memory is one that conjures even just a sliver of the warmth and abundant joy you have brought me. You were my surprise baby, Isaiah, and you have surprised me and delighted me in so many ways over the past four years. From the moment you arrived with your brown hair and your it’s all good demeanor, you have surprised me. Keep on surprising me, Bup. We’ve got so many more memories to make together.
Last Year’s Birthday Post
On the occasion of your 3rd birthday, the bombings in Boston and other awful things