Four years ago, tomorrow, I became a mother. Four years ago, you, The Eldest, made our twosome into a family. We will raise our glasses to toast you; lean in with anticipation as you blow out your candles; recount stories of you so little, all in celebration of you.
They say that how you enter this world can foreshadow a bit of who you will be: Dear Eldest, you arrived on your due date, after an intensely quiet and awe-filled labor. This desire for predictability is one of your trademarks. We left the birth center a mere 12 hours after you were born. Though I didn’t much believe in us yet, they waved us away with such confidence, in our ability to care for, to nourish, to tenderly love you. And those early moments are tender, and raw. I learned early to ditch all else, but to lean into you, my babe, and listen to your heart, and mine. Trust your gut, know your mama instinct. We did that together, you and I.
It can be hard for me to reflect on you, because you and I are so wrapped up in each other. Your four years here have been my four years as a mother, and it is with you that I am figuring so much of that out. You haven’t always been the most resilient or buoyant, and there is much of this mothering business you have challenged me with, but our love is more than the stars, deeper and wider and stronger for it. As first borns, we share a simpatico. Our strengths can be our weaknesses. For this, too, it can be hard for me to see where you start and I end.
You are deeply tender. You love without boundaries, without fear. You give, and you give, and you give. You inspire me to be as selfless as you are without worry. You teach me about the big nouns: Grace, Love, Forgiveness, Strength, Peace. You give me such hope about the future — your future, the future of the world, knowing you will make your very own mark in this place. You are smart — too smart, mostly, and you can be humble, too. (Though in a battle of wits and words, locked heads with me, your pride and arrogance can match mine. I apologize for this inheritance). You are polite in ways that make me smile: “It’s my pleasure,” you responded the other day, after being thanked for helping with the dishes. Your sense of humor is strange, eeking out in unexpected places. You approach each day with enthusiasm and energy. Though a peanut next to your peers, your agile athleticism is already strongly evident, and you stand taller and more proud with each accomplishment.
Your independence grows, and as it does your dependence on me wanes. Or is this true? I see you, this extension of me, with your friends, your teachers, your family, and I am wildly proud — proud of you, all who are, and proud of me, too. Though I take very little credit, and shoot all glory straight to God, I know somewhere in all of that, there is this fierce love that I have for you that burns in your heart, giving you a place to call home, to cry “Mommy.” You take great risks, and are beginning to know the fall; I only hope to always offer you a place to dust it all off, and begin again.
As a big brother, you lead your sister well, and you are so excited to teach her how to be a “big.” Your excitement about our new babe is contagious. When I become anxious about how we will all handle this transition, I only need to look to you, and remember how we’ve done this before.
Sometimes it seems as though tomorrow is just as much my day as it is yours. It is, after all, my four year anniversary of becoming a mother. But I will quietly take the corner, and let you take the pomp and circumstance. I will smile, looking on, and know, that like you, each day I am becoming.
Four seems like such a little person, such a little man. I am amazingly thankful for these four years — eager to celebrate all that you are tomorrow, and to pause all time for a moment to take it in. I love you, dear Eldest of mine. Happy fourth birthday.