This morning as we snuggled in bed and I told him the story of his birth, he told me, "Now that I'm five, I'm going to be a lot more rougher." "Really?" I asked, "I thought five year old were more gentle, especially with their sisters." "Well, I'm going to be rougher on the playground and, like, make up really cool games, but I'll be more gentle with my sister."
Every year on Alex's birthday I feel guilty. I realize another year has gone by and it hits me that I might not be getting any better at being his mother. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being his mother, but it gets harder every year. I was REALLY exceptional at the baby stuff, the PHYSICAL parts of parenting: the feeding, bathing, rocking, nurturing, nursing and even packing the diaper bag. Logistics is my stronghold. That part was easy for me.
But now there's discipline and patience and the hardest thing of all: being present. I feel like I'm not so stellar at including him in the moment. I'm busy most of the time just dealing with the various details of keeping us all afloat. Sure, he could HELP me wash the dishes, but it takes longer and I'm more apt to just say, "Go play outside!" than I am to pull up a stool and include him in my work. I'm too snappy and impatient (and lazy). I have a hard time being fun.
Alex, on the other hand, never seems to notice. He mostly goes about his day finding ways to entertain himself (although often at the expense of his sister). He is creative and enthusiastic and intelligent in ways I never expected. He loves to talk and probably tells me he loves me half a dozen times every day, just out of the blue. I have one year left before he starts school and I want to enjoy it with him. I want to give him as much of myself as I possibly can.
And so I will.
Happy Birthday, Alex! The remote-controlled tarantula is going to seem pretty cool, but my real gift to you is going to be more time, more attention and more patience.