Do Both

Dear Isaiah,

Well, tomorrow’s the big day.  We’ve been counting down for weeks.  This feels like a monumental birthday for all of us.  Five.  Five!  My baby is five.  Papa and I are no longer the harried parents of “two kids under two:” no longer the sleep-deprived duo that planned each day and every outing around nap times; no longer the ones chasing down the toddlers at the beach and in the park and through the grocery store.  It’s different now.  You are different.  You’ll start kindergarten this Fall and thus usher us into an entirely new season as a family.

I don’t miss the tantrums or the 4am wake-ups, the diapers or the potty training but still I often wonder, why must you be so insistent on growing up?  

The other day you overheard Papa and I bemoaning your birthday and saying all the usual things that parents say, like, “How can he be 5 already?” and “When did he get so old?” and “I’m not ready for this.”   You’ve been asking ever since, in the car and at the playground and just before bedtime, “Do you not want me to get older?  How come you don’t want me to have my birthday?”

Of course I want you to have your birthday.  How could I wish for anything but?  I want you to grow and change and stretch out into the life before you just as you ought.  I wish, of course, for a smooth passage at each turn and I would be grieved beyond measure if you were unable to move forward in your life.  Yes, I wish for birthday after birthday after birthday after birthday for you.


But I remember reaching down and pulling you up onto my chest five years ago and I feel a deep-in-my-bones yearning to return to that moment.  I remember Gryffin meeting you the next day at the hospital, poking your eyelid and saying “baby, eye.”  I remember holding you each night that first year before I put you down for bed – how you would rest your head, just so, on my right shoulder.  You still do, actually.

I remember how you crawled through the strawberry fields one Summer, your pants covered in the mud and the red juice of the berries you left in your wake.  I remember your first steps at the old house.  I remember you riding in the push-car on Halloween in the astronaut suit.  I remember brother pushing you in the dump truck along Madrona Beach.  I remember your 2nd birthday when you wore a flannel button-down shirt.  I remember you starting preschool and Papa teaching you how to ride your bike and the way you went crazy last November when we got our first snowfall. Would that I could return to even one of those moments.

I want you to have a birthday and I don’t want you to have a birthday.  I want you to grow up and I don’t want you to grow up.  I want you to do both.  But the first desire always outweighs the last.  And to me, Isaiah, you will always be every age you have ever been.  So keep on growing, Bup, keep on growing.

Wishing you many, many happy returns of the day,


Other Birthday Posts

On Your Marks…
On the Occasion of Your 3rd Birthday, the Bombings in Boston and Other Awful Things
On the Cusp