See what I did there? Spelling Forrest with a ‘four,’ because he’s four now? Clever, eh? I’ll be here all week.
Well, after months of Forrest asking for frequent updates on his birthday countdown, it finally happened. This kid’s birthday has come and gone. He’s been walking this planet, smiling and laughing, alternately driving me batty and making me swoon with those bright blue eyes and sweet smile, for 4 entire years.
1,460 days of watching him learn and develop and grow. 35,063 hours spent taking care of, thinking about, and worrying about the little booger. 2,103,795 minutes of trying to balance someone else’s all-consuming wants and needs with my own. 126,227,704 seconds spent wondering about his future, worrying and praying about where his life will take him, and hoping with all my heart that he will just be safe and happy his whole life long.
I’ve spent these four years:
- wondering at what point, exactly, a few spare particles of parenting wisdom will be bestowed upon me (I’m still waiting, by the way—any day now, surely).
- changing countless diapers, wiping endless boogers, reading uncountable books, and, let’s be real, burning out the replay button on his favorite movies.
- cheering for his every success and worrying over every setback/delay.
- shaking off the idea of the kid I thought I’d have and learning to love the one I actually got.
- learning a little bit each day about who he is and who he might become and how, hopefully, I can help him get there.
- trying (and failing, over and over and over again, and then trying again) to be the mother I always hoped I could be—patient, accepting, supportive, kind, loving.
- struggling through infinite variations of motherly concern and guilt, some small (does blue poop warrant a phone call to the pediatrician?), and some big (could these over-the-top mood swings and total meltdowns be a sign of something seriously wrong? does he know he’s loved? how, exactly, am I damaging his fragile little emotions and self-esteem? if I died right now, would he remember me? are we making the right choices in how we raise/teach/discipline him? how will I get through another day, another hour, with this little snotball? how can I feel such huge extremes toward him, from absolute adoring love to rip-my-hair-out annoyance? and does feeling that way [or at least acknowledging it] mean there’s something wrong with me as a mother?)
- laughing and singing and dancing and snuggling and getting fed up with and yelling at and apologizing to and adoring that sweet, sweet boy.
Forrest, you’ve spent these four years:
- growing and changing in ways that continue to amaze me—somehow, the mushy, crying little blob we brought home from the hospital has turned into an articulate, affectionate, adorable big 4-year old boy, and frankly, I’m not sure how or when it happened.
- testing your parents’ patience in every imaginable way, from your ferocious newborn colic to your current bull-headed stubbornness and exasperating attitude.
- perfecting your performance of Gangnam Style and Carrie Underwood’s Good Girl—I think you have a bright future as a YouTube sensation (every mother’s dream for her precious child!).
- developing the most ridiculous, endearing sense of humor . . . you currently know exactly 2 jokes but have somehow kept them fresh for weeks now with your endless creative variations of them, and I have to hand it to you, that takes some skill.
- proving to us just how wrong we were (and are) on just about every idea we had/have for raising you—everything we thought would work perfectly? doesn’t. everything we swore we’d never do? done. things we never even thought to think about? checkcheckcheck. You certainly don’t believe in making things easy or predictable, but I suppose that’s part of your charm. You’re never ever ever boring.
- opening our eyes to life’s simplest joys and sweetest pleasures, reminding us to see the beauty in a freshly-picked, sorta-mangled-by-little-hands flower, to slow down and snuggle and laugh at a movie together, to make time for silly fun and get dirty and play, to say no to the baby carrots and yes to the fresh-baked cookies.
- making your parents laugh and smile and roll our eyes and cry—often all in a day’s work.
We love you, little buddy. Bring on year 5.