A very happy birthday to me with our miracle by my side, and our gift from God inside, I couldn’t be happier!
Walter turned two on October 1st, and today, I get to enjoy my third birthday as his mother. After he was born in 2014, he gave me the gift of getting to leave the hospital relatively healthy and unbelievably happy, in 2015 he let me celebrate his first birthday with him at home after two open heart surgeries, and this year he woke up and for the first time called out “mama, mama” for me to start the day with him. Music to my ears.
Our little boy is just a gift that keeps on giving.
He fills the room (and our lives) with his giggles, his crave for tickles, inquisitive questioning, and harried mischief, on the daily. He is a little boy who contains in his body a strong will desperately defiant, but a heart eager to please, and love. He can open doors and unlock them, get through almost every baby gate we throw at him, climb out of a crib and onto bookshelves, run away and hide behind trees…and yet, he can give the softest kisses, biggest (whole body, knock you down) bear hugs, quietly explore a newfound leaf or favorite rock, and cuddle under blankets with his head on my shoulder.
This world of raising little souls (and little boys!) is a challenging one. Each day seems plagued by thunderstorms and lightening of managing endless energy and trickery, only later graced by rainbows of calm. My life is filled with laundry, dishes, snacks on the floor, toys to be put away, diapers, potty training, tears, nap time, and so many things characterized as mundane. But they are equally filled with wonder, learning, the sound of new words forming on previously quiet lips, lessons, and an understanding of all encompassing purpose. Some days, pass quickly and quietly, while on others I am in awe of challenging beauty, and weight of the tasks I have been given in my vocation (truly my call) to be Walter, and now, Franklin’s mother. How soon these little boys will grow into young men, and then older men…the kind I want to be just like their Daddy, and their Gramps. I have been given a wonderful, challenging, and fulfilling gift, and for that I am grateful.
A friend of mine shared in her writing this reflection from Chesterton last week and it has resonated with me since. It seems particularly fitting of my sentiments today (and always).
“To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes, and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it.
How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”
A few things I’d like to remember about Wally as of late:
- At our pumpkin patch visit, he ran (of course) up and down the rows of vines seeking out the green pumpkins. He found their contrast to all of the other orange ones particularly striking. This boy never misses a beat. I wonder, too, if he will name “green” as his favorite color (it runs in the family).
- Walter “caught” his shadow. He spotted it in front of him the other day up against a large buffet dresser. He then pinched his fingers, as if picking it up, and carried it across the room at each shoulder like a garment, and “threw” it onto the closet door. This process repeated itself back and forth, again and again, for several minutes – each “catching” of the shadow just as careful and neat as the one before.
- He is no longer sleeping in his crib (he can climb and chew his way out), and though he has a perfectly comfy toddler bed, often chooses to sleep on the floor in front of the door with his blanket, teddy, Elmo, and Woody. I can sometimes transfer him to his bed, and on very special bedtimes, he will let me lay down with him and sing him songs as we (both) drift off to sleep.
- Walter’s speech is improving drastically. He is still considered very much behind, but his vocabulary is nearing 25-30 “words”. Some are still indistinguishable from one another, e.g. “water” and “Walter” are both “Wa”, but are obvious in context and are a huge improvement. He so wants to talk and communicate, that it is making parts of our day so much easier now that I can get better insight to what he is asking for. His firsts two syllable word was “bubble” which came out clear as day, and is a favorite! I have to admit, being called “mama” is sill *my* favorite.
- Cleaning: Walt is fairly neat (for a toddler) and demands a napkin on his lap (or tucked in his shirt), wipes his mouth/hands after meals, and cleans up milk spills with exuberance. To my chagrin, he insists on picking up all the trash he finds at the park and throwing it away, but despite the uncleanliness of it, I appreciate his newfound desire for public service. Sweeping with the broom is another favorite, and we’re working him up to the hand vac. Recently, he’s danced, clapped, and cleaned up all of his toys before bed almost every night. For being our energetic wonder boy, he sure has a knack for helpfulness.
- He got a new pair of shoes, and it is love. Who knew?! This cool little dude got a pair of navy blue Converse All-Stars, and we had to get into a fight with him to take them off before bedtime. They are the first thing he wants to put on in the morning, and clearly, the last thing he ever wants to take off. He proudly shows off his “shoooooeeessss” to everyone he meets.
- Lastly (for now), Wally enjoys opening presents and cards! This made his birthday so much fun, and I had no idea he would have any understanding of opening gifts/cards and being excited about them. It sure makes it enjoyable for the gift givers. Completely contrary to anything we expected, he quietly and carefully unwraps gifts at the tape, not wanting to rip the paper, and gives many “oohs”,”ahhs”, and “wooows” to his surprises waiting inside.
All I can say further, is that our wonderful Walt gives us surprises and gifts of his own every day!