Thursday, February 9, 2017

Letter to (Five Year and Seven Month Old) Graves

 Dear Graves,

I'm way behind on these but I know it won't matter when you read these- if you ever do!

Most of this info is from mid October to mid November.  

One really big thing that month was our family camping trip. We had such a great time. We did a lot of driving and you, Annie, and Papa slept in the tent several nights (Sallie and I slept in the van). Only one night was particularly rough. We made it to the Shenandoah Valley but all the campsites and motels were full. We finally ended up getting the last room in the motel an hour away for less than a hundred dollars. I was pretty proud of myself because Papa was just a ball of stress and I stayed calm (which is typically so the opposite for us) and even insisted we not cave and pay $200 for a mediocre motel half an hour away. And I was also SO proud of you- you were calm, obedient, and a big help with your baby sister who just wanted to be held after a long drive. She was tickling, stroking, and grabbing your face while you held her. Y'all were made for one another!

We also took a short trip to Alabama for a friend's mother's funeral. Bless your heart- on the way there you got a weather headache so bad you were screaming and vomiting. We got you some medicine, cold water, and I got the little fan from Sallie's diaper bag on you. You took a nap, rallied for the service and were able to visit some that evening. You went to bed super early, though. Through it all, you were so sweet and considerate (like telling Annie "you might not want to get too close to me...I'd never want to give you my disease"). I was so proud of you- I know how hard those things are!

We had such a fun Halloween. We dressed up as two pirates (you and me), two parrots (Annie and Sallie), and our prisoner (Papa)! We love a theme and we love alliteration!

We also went door to door campaigning for Gary Johnson for President. You and Annie distributed all the literature; I just pushed the stroller with Sallie in it. And y'all both picked up the slack for each other when the other one got tired. Y'all both insisted on wearing your backpacks so that was great hiking prep!

The cutest thing was that you took Blueberry, you stuffed owl harness animal from your crazy New York days when I needed you on a leash to keep my sanity. You told me at one point "I need to adjust this; you strapped it wrong. It's around my baby's neck and that could hurt Blueberry." 

And another time I looked back and you were kissing Blueberry on the head just like I do when Sallie's in her carrier. I don't think you necessarily meant to but your little hands relaxed on your baby's body just the way mine do, too. You got on my every nerve that day but I could've cried over how sweet you are (such is the story of many days.

Sidenote: you picked a library book recently and it was It's So Amazing: A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families. Haha- such a Gravesy choice.

Additional sidenote:  Papa recently told you that "it takes two people to make a baby and I'm sure momma wouldn't be comfortable making a baby with a different papa.". He was actually a little more explicit when you told him I could still make babies. He then also explained that I actually never wanted to be pregnant again. Which, you know, was the way easier answer.

Speaking of babies, of course I have to tell you about you and Sallie.

One morning I woke up and  about had a heart attack because you were snuggled up in the bed beside Sallie. Then I about had a heart explosion. Heart attacks + heart explosions = much of my motherhood story thus far. I was such a ball of anxiety. I found you a few nights later with your duvet wrapped pretty tightly around your head; I can barely trust you to sleep on your own, I sure can't trust you to co-sleep with an infant. I work pretty hard at making sure our sleep spaces are safe and while it admittedly looks different from the Angel Care monitor I needed for my anxiety with AP it also looks different from the stupid crap I pulled too often with you, like falling asleep on the couch. I'm well aware that wasn't it. We had a big talk about how a grown up needs to be watching if you're snuggling with her and if you get in our bed in the morning it can't be next to the baby (similar to the talk I had with him after I observed you dangling a small toy right over her face while her mouth was wide open cooing- you know not to give her tiny toys but it didn't occur to you that this too could be a choking hazard).

She tickles you back now! When she grabs your face it's literally one of my favorite things in the world. And behind her little hands is the sweetest, calmest, most serene little smile I've maybe ever seen on my beautiful boy. It's good to wake up to the face of someone who loves you so deeply.

She also lets you  dress her up like a babydoll. One afternoon awhile back you had her in a 3T Star Wars shirt and Batman undies!!!

I mentioned this in Annie's most recent letter, but I wanted to share it with you, too- shortly after you were born, I was having such a hard time. You were  not the easiest baby but the harder part was what a difficult transition it was for Annie, who was exactly two years old at the time. I second guessed everything, even wondering if it would have been more wise to have waited until she was a bit older for another baby. One of my dearest friends told me something that I still consider one of the wisest things she's ever said to me. She said "SD, she will never remember her life without him and that's a very special thing". I've told that to countless friends struggling with having two "babies" and more than one has commented how meaningful it was to hear that. Of course, most people know that you and Annie grew up to be each other's best friend. It's sort of crazy- but very special- to think back on those overwhelming moments and think how far I (and y'all!) have come. 

You are hysterical in so many ways. I had a headache one day and Papa was lunching with a friend so Annie made your sandwich. It had turkey, lettuce, cheese, and peanut butter and jelly on it and you ate basically all of it.

Kindergarten is going pretty well. Sometimes I do wonder how I'd do school with you and Annie and take care of Sarah Lamar if Papa was working as much as he did earlier in our marriage.Your school (which he typically takes care of) took over two hour one weekend and it was just what should have been a short review. But your concentration is getting better and you're learning so much. And we're all learning about patience! 

Church is going well, too. You're getting MUCH better at sitting still during the service. You also decided that, along with your little friend, Baby Eleanor, you also want to bring home Miss Tequila, the nursery worker, too. You go from grumpy to cheery basically every single Sunday and I appreciate people's patience more than they know.

Awhile back we were running late and I got in the van to take you to Little Gym and you had fixed me a cup of water in this metal ABC mug that was mine when I was your age and had left your sucker for me to finish. On our ride, you told me that your were sad that I couldn't go Trick or Treating with you and Annie and Papa because I had a headache. You also asked me if I wanted a different car because you remembered over a year ago when I was so upset about losing my Buick. I'm sometimes very guilty of selling you short because you are smart in a very different way than Annie. Also, I often say that it was around three years old that things really clicked and I began to REALLY understand what made Annie tick and the motivation behind her thinking and behaviors. It's taken me about two extra years with you but at five I'm really starting to understand and appreciate you more (this may or may not be because Annie and I have very similar personalities). Anyway, in many ways I find you more typical than her but I think you're so unique in how emotionally intelligent you are. You're VERY perceptive of other people's emotions, very sensitive, and very empathetic. I, of course, love how attuned you are to all this (even moreso since you're ironically not especially attuned to much else). You told us for the longest time that you wanted a van so we could bring around guests. The first real picture you ever drew was of Mickey being sad after his best friend died. YOu check to make sure the doors to the house are locked at night and you got so upset one time when I was talking about selling Sallie's baby clothes because you thought I was talking about selling HER. You heard "I don't want to lose your love tonight" on the radio and were so concerned why anyone would lose anyone else's love. I know I say it all the time but you are just the sweetest little boy.

Another day you told me "Momma. Momma. Take three deep breaths and settle down. Then you won't be stressed."  in response to me using a completely normal voice to prep you and Annie for what will be an unexpected relatively busy beginning of the next week. Like I said, you're very attuned. I love your great interpersonal skills.

I will likely never say motherhood is easy but it's much simpler than I once believed. I was telling a friend that sometimes it helps me to have a few focus points for a season. Right now, I really just want to show them that they're deeply loved and there's no mess up in the world that can change that, that it's best to avoid moralism, and that God is big enough for their questions, doubts and fears.

Momma (and Papa)

P.S. Your Life Is Good t-shirt is a 5T, as are your pants, I believe. I don't love you pointing a gun but I do love your haircut and your sweet smile.


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