Our son turns 3 tomorrow and in his short little lifetime, he’s turned our world upside-down. I thought bringing one baby into our lives was a major transition, but when our son made us a family of four, we began a fast-paced,
tiring exhausting season of parenting that shows no signs of slowing down.
I don’t know when his fascination with orange began, but it is by far his favorite color. So our birthday theme is orange. Orange cake, orange ice cream, orange plates and napkins. Maybe one of the easiest cake requests for one of the kids’ birthdays I’ve had. So, for our son’s third birthday, I dedicate this week’s Saturday smiles to him, with these three thoughts.
1. He stole my heart from day 1. I once wondered if I had enough love in my heart for two kids. I had nothing to worry about. I love our daughter and can hardly remember what life was like before her birth, and she’s unique and funny and creative. As much as I love her, I love our son differently. We share a similar temperament and personality at times. He’s a little more reserved in social situations. He can just sit with me and not have to be entertained or talked to. I try not to play favorites, but I know I can be much more of a softie with our son than with our daughter. I can’t explain the mother-son bond, and I hope I’m not turning him into the wrong kind of Mama’s Boy. We do need our space from each other, though. If he doesn’t nap, I’m super worn out by the end of the day.
2. He makes me appreciate my brother. I’m the older sister, and seeing my daughter live this role, and given the truths posted in No. 1, I now have much more sympathy for the unfortunate life of the younger brother. (I can’t speak for younger sisters or older brothers.) Sometimes, I feel like I need to write an apology letter when I see our daughter treat our son like I’m sure I treated my brother. (If you’re reading this, bro, consider this the apology because I’d be sending you letters once a week, at least.) Being able to see this relationship from the outside makes me more compassionate, I hope, toward those who aren’t the “firsts” in their family.
And seriously, our son looks so much like pictures of my brother when he was that age. It’s hard not to compare. And easy to see why siblings born only a few years apart can grow to be friends, not just family.
3. He lets me be wrong. Having a second child meant that I threw out the rule book from the first child, and any other child for that matter. Everything, starting with my pregnancy, was different with him, leading me to believe that there are no 100 percent right answers for how to parent. I was super uptight with our daughter. I’m much more lax with our son. With her, I monitored every. single. milestone to make sure she was tracking for her age. With him, I simply trusted that he was on the right track because frankly, he was keeping up with his sister. Of course, this also means that like a typical second child, there are not as many pictures and I’m pretty sure I haven’t finished his baby book. And maybe I didn’t update his sister’s this year either.
This kid eats like a champ and plays hard. He’s big but not grotesquely overweight, and I don’t let the WIC nutritionist’s comments bother me like I did with our daughter. (Although I’m secretly dreading his 3-year checkup next week because I know, I know, I know they’re going to say something about him being overweight and for the tiniest of seconds I feel like a failure as a mom. Okay, it passed.) I let him wear dresses when he’s playing with his sister, and he learned to cut with scissors earlier than his sister did. With his sister, I wanted to do everything right to “prove” I was a good mom. There’s still a temptation to do that with him, but most days I just don’t have the energy to live up to anyone else’s expectations, much less my own. I might be doing it wrong, but I’m still doing it.
Happy birthday, my boy.