Kevin and I have never been huge celebrators of things. Birthdays and anniversaries go by with smiles and sweet thoughts, sometimes a present or special meal, but usually we just celebrate the little things throughout the year. Moments when we have extra in our budget and can go get flowers for the yard, or when we’ve saved up enough to get a new laptop and can pull the trigger, or when we’re not too tired and seem to be working extra well together and everything clicks. Every once in awhile something comes along that feels extraordinary, worth celebrating to the max. Calvin turning one fit the bill.
I came across this song, “You were meant to be here”, while researching CDs for the library and I adore it. Turn it on while you read the post and feel free to cry ;-).
I think we were both struck by how weird it is that we can say our baby is one. Other parents who had one year olds seemed to have it together, they had lost the “new parent” sheen of worry and exhaustion. Are we really there?? I wish we could have an out of body experience and watch ourselves parent so we could say, wow, those two really have it together…
To commemorate Calvin turning one Kevin and I individually wrote up memories or thoughts about his first year that we wanted to capture for posterity’s sake. Things that he might like to know someday or things we loved so much but will probably forget once he starts doing things like talking and running around. So here are our letters to Calvin:
It is practically impossible for me to put into words all of the magical moments from this first year. I’m trying to narrow it down to things that you would be happy to hear about some day (so…you know…how wonderful it was to breastfeed you wouldn’t be in that category). Here are a few things I can actually put into words:
You love exploring, understanding and directing things: in ten years I hope you still have these attributes. You’re delighted by taking lids on and off, figuring out the light switch, playing with your shape sorter, etc. One day around 11 months you picked up a stuffed animal on the floor and returned it to the shelf where all the stuffed animals belong and your father rejoiced. Maybe our tendencies to put things back is rubbing off on you already! The other funny part of this trait is that you LOVE directing our actions and making us do things. When you want me to sit down you push on my legs. One day your father and I gave each other a kiss when you were around, you thought it was hilarious and now you pull on Dad’s hair and push our faces to each other so that we kiss. I’m not sure which you like more: seeing us be loving or being in charge!
You have great eyebrows: It kind of surprises me how often your eyebrows get complimented. Everyone says you are very cute, but they often add that you have great eyebrows. I think it’s the easiest way to remark on how very expressive you are. You have a strong, expressive brow that often quirks or furrows to look mischievous or serious. I love the variety of your expressions, you are finding new ways to communicate with us everyday. I don’t want to forget how well you communicated before you had any words! So if no one else tells you the rest of your life that you have great eyebrows, let this be the record of their greatness.
You are so loved: I’m sure we’ll continue showing and telling you how loved you are for the rest of your life. The first year of life is such an intense time for parents: you will have no memory of this time, but it is so vivid for us. It is the foundation of your emotional security. You won’t remember how, whenever you were teething, you just wanted to snuggle all day. Or that you wanted to follow Dad out the door every morning when he went to work and we would stand and watch him move the cars around as he left. Some mornings it seemed like you’d search the house trying to find him. I know I’ll never forget how hard it was when I left you to go to work. I developed a plan of playing with toys, giving you kisses, saying I love you, saying goodbye (so you wouldn’t be tricked into losing me), and trying to leave. Sometimes it would work and you would just pout at me as I left, sometimes you would collapse and crawl towards me, pointing at me with insistence (when you really wanted something you’d repeatedly point, over and over, at the object). I could rarely leave you like that, so I’d risk being late to go pick you up, snuggle you another minute or two, then try the routine again. It usually worked after that. You’ll have probably learned that I am an incredible softy when it comes to upsetting you. When you want me, I do whatever I can to be there, whether it’s at midnight or in the middle of a bath when you won’t sit down for a wash unless I climb in the tub with you. Every once in awhile I am reminded by other parents and Kevin that letting you fuss and figure things out by yourself is an important thing, so I try not to give in to you all the time :-). I know there will come a day when you don’t want me to do everything with you, so I might as well soak it up now.
Now you get to hear from your dad. Brace yourself. It’s much funnier than my letter!
First, I’m sorry. Generally. Also, you’re welcome. Again, just a blanket statement.
Now, here’s a message that I hope finds its way to you through the tubes of the internet:
The night was chilly. A slow breeze curled through the trees and bushes outside. A light mist was rolling through the valley, tucking the sleepy little village in for the night. In a cozy home on a corner lot, a naive couple was wrapping up their pillow talk.
“…the size of a dime, and it was embedded in my toe. Can you believe it? Man, it feels so good now, though,” said the ruggedly handsome homunculus.
“Wow. That’s great. You’re gross,” the highly pregnant wife said.
As the sun rose the next morning, the man woke serenely and stepped out of his bed on a cloud. He noticed his wife was lightly sleeping, a bit wiggly. When she awoke, she mentioned that her back hurt, and that she’d felt new sensations overnight. He didn’t think anything of it as he went about his morning routine. He and his wife went to their scheduled prenatal visit (a semi-weekly event to reassure him that he is, on a basic level, useless). [Jewel’s note: if you read the birth story from a year ago, you realize Kevin’s accounting of events is quite different than mine!] She mentioned something again about cramps and restless sleep, but he was too focused on estimating the likelihood that the Vikings could end up selecting the cornerback that so many pundits had predicted they would choose in the first round of the upcoming draft. I mean, they could certainly use another top-notch corner to round out their defense, but they need a wide receiver, too. He glided out of the hospital and on his way to work, rehearsing an imaginary conversation with French President Francois Hollande (really, just singing his name over and over after he heard it on the radio).
After a few hours at work, his wife told him to come home, she might be in labor. As he drove home down alleys and slashed the wrong way down one-way streets, he felt a steely resolve and razor focus come over him (♪Francois Hollande!…Francois Hollande!♪). He walked through the door without opening it first, collected himself, tried again, successfully entered, and assessed the situation. He saw his wife bracing herself on the oven as she scarfed down a serving of pasta fit for a tiny hamster. They watched some episodes of an old sitcom on their laptop while, unbeknownst to them, their son’s head was wedging its way into a hole it shouldn’t be able to fit through.
As things progressed in a way they could no longer ignore, an exciting realization slowly dawned on them; that they might get to meet their son face-to-face that very day. As they calmly screeched into the hospital overhang entrance, the woman bounded out of the car, sashayed through the door, leaped in the elevator and landed on her examination room bed with an impressive double Salchow (nearly stumbling, but saving the landing). The man came in a few minutes later after parking the car and dutifully investigating the podiatry and gastroenterology wings in a way that clearly indicated he was too confident to be lost. A few minutes and a new room later, he watched as his wife had a leisurely [editor’s note: how the heck does this fit in with the ‘i before e’ rule?] soak in a nice tub, and then held her baby.
The following week passed blissfully [aka in a trance of bliss and confusion]. As he transitioned back to his work schedule, he wondered if that new cornerback the Vikings drafted would pan out. He also began to grapple with new mysteries in life he’d never considered before. New emotions opened up in him that he didn’t know afflicted humans. Sometimes his son wouldn’t respond to his comforting (read: wouldn’t sleep, even when asked nicely) and the man would get frustrated and sad and angry all at the same time; frusadgry. Sometimes his son would laugh at him (read: would fart) and he would feel happy and nostalgic and inspired; instalppy. The man’s son grew and developed a personality and learned new things, and the child began to do more and more each day (read: he could fart AND burp). The man heard so many people tell him that the first time they held their child, they instantly fell in love. The man had not felt that. He had felt a lot of responsibility, and a lot of hope, but he had not “fallen in love”. As he developed a relationship with his son, though, he did. It wasn’t a saturating curve, either, it just kept increasing. One day, as he held his son’s hand and walked around with him for the 1,377th time, he watched his son clumsily bend over and pick up a teddy bear, then put it on the shelf with his other stuffed animals. The man felt pride. He turned his back for a moment one day, and saw that his son had crawled up the first three basement stairs. He felt fear, guilt, and excitement (feauiltment) at seeing his son grow. And all of those emotions combined, day in and day out, into love. And he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there was nothing his son could ever do to make him feel disappointed, because he would only ever do good things and be well behaved at all times. And he would eventually be the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, leading them to their 22nd straight Super Bowl victory (after Teddy B. wins the first 21).
And so, as another chilly night closed in a year later, and the man sat in his basement watching a rerun of Scrubs, he thought to himself what the past year had held, and how that cornerback the Vikings got had shown some real progress toward the end of the season. And, he thought, “That Rowdy, he’s always getting into mischief…I should get a stuffed dog.”
There. I hope you get that message. It sort of feels like the sort of thing you’ll find after I’ve tragically died in a heroic trampoline-tumbling event, and you’ll cling to it for your whole life, using it as your inspiration to become the next Michelle Obama. At least some good would come of that horrible, bouncing, tumble bumble; as Bob Kelso said, “That’s a nice anecdote, why don’t you write it down in your journal so your kids can read it when you’re dead.”
Long stories short, we love you Calvin and can’t imagine life without you!
Mom and Dad