Brooksie, this year has taught me a lot of things about being a mom, about making a family out of individual people, about cultivating joy in the daily and in the difficult, about brothers and their fathers and what it might mean to raise a boy into a man.
You are named after two second-born sons. My brother and your dad’s brother. I like to think you’ll be taking the best of your namesakes: Brooks’ humor and tender-heart, his compassion for the unloved and his commitment to friendship; Andy’s bright mind and his passion for using his brain to create, his kindness and sensitive spirit. Your second name (the name we call you most of the time: “T-Rexy” as your cake will say at your party or “T” as we call from across the room) was given to you by your big brother, long before we saw your face. So many brothers surrounding you, little guy.
Really, it’s your brother who is teaching you most about the world. How to pretend, how to receive a good story, how to run, how to laugh, how to eat heartily. And it’s that same brother who is teaching you the injustice of the world: that sometimes you get knocked down for no reason at all, laughed at, told on. Sometimes you are the bugger and sometimes you are the one being bugged. I’m convinced younger siblings know a lot more about the world by the time they get to kindergarten than older siblings. In some ways learning early makes it easier, I hope.
Yesterday morning, when you woke up on your 364th day of life (ok, 365th, it was Leap Year)–that last day before the world gives you a number to define your life’s span, your development–you woke up angry and hungry. Your dad picked you up out of your crib and you signed “eat” and grunted. Then I walked in the room and you reached for me, signed “eat” again and hit me in the face. Your dad said, “Oh no, T! That’s mean.” And I said, “Owww, baby,” and you frowned the sweetest sad face I’d ever seen and stared at me. You’re learning that you can hurt people. You’re learning that your choices have consequences. And you know how to love me, how to love your brother and dad.
Tuesday night, after I got you into your pjs and you kissed your dad and August, you and I went into your room, where I nurse you before bed in the dark. Behind the whoosh of the sound machine, you could hear the faint giggling of your brother and dad. They were on the couch tickling each other and wrestling. You nursed like normal for a minute or so until you realized what was going on, what you were missing out on, and you let go of me, sat up, grunted and got yourself onto the floor in your dark room. I watched you in the glow of the night light make your way across the room in your stiff legged baby walk, open up that cracked door and leave me for the party. You walked all the way to the living room and found yourself welcomed into the pile of boys.
That’s what this is, my love. This is the welcome into boyhood. It’s a small one, but one that acknowledges that you, my (so-far) laid back, left-handed, tender-hearted, quieter but people-loving second born, are an independent soul. I’m still here. I’ll be your mama for a long time, but I know what happens to little boys when they discover how to jump on their daddies, how to roll around on the floor with their big brothers. I know about growing up.
So today, I’ll try not to be the weepy woman you’re used to. Today is for celebrating. Your feet have hit the ground and you’ve got a lot of world to explore, baby.
Happy first birthday, T.