my dearest little dude-man—
At some point in the not-so-very-distant past, we referred to you as “the baby” for the last time.
in between the sounds of your Hot Wheels doing laps around the inner perimeter of the bathtub, and the minutes spent carefully choosing your books to read at bedtime;
between the fifth and 500th time we listened to “Thunder” in the car;
in between slow-sunshine mornings and adventure-walk afternoons—
somewhere along the way, you went full dude on us.
And in that moment, whenever it happened, we didn’t feel a cataclysmic shift;
no invisible marker added itself to the timeline of you;
nothing gave us any reason to pause and remember that time as the last time, because we had no idea it would be.
Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a mourning thing, like, WHERE DID MY BABY GOOOO, because I know exactly where he is:
He’s making up songs about tooting, and asking important questions like where do yogurt raisins come from, and every night, he makes sweet, satisfied little lip-smacking noises after he falls asleep, the same way he’s done since he was less than 24 hours old.
He giggles up against my chest in the kitchen while I sing, “I love you, a bushel and a peck” into his ear, and he asks me which car is my favorite of the two he brings to bed every night, so he can be sure to sleep with that one.
See, when it comes to last ANYthings, I like to see them as a marker;
for a chance to pause and process what was, and what’s to come.
And I guess that‘s what this particular “last” is about, really;
that moment of pause and peace.
You’re it for us, my dude;
our first, last, and only, and every single wonderful thing we could’ve hoped for.
Here’s to loving all the “every times” as wholly and purposefully as if they’re the last times—
because sometimes, they really are.
– (walking past the entrance to the gym at the mall): “It’s the lifting store! Moms and daddies go in there, and they get some’fing, and then, they lift it!”
– Mama, whispering: What do you want to dream about tonight, buddy?
Nixon, also whispering: ‘dat chicken we had earlier.
– (11PM, while sitting in the tub, post-puke): “Oh, cwap cwap.”
– (immediately after farting): “There is a horn in my butt.”
– Waitress, to Nixon: “And for you, sir?”
Nixon: “I hafta’ poop.”
– (in a public bathroom): “Are the other friends in here to go pee and poop, too? Should we ask ‘dem?”
– (also in public bathroom): “Think dada can hear us next to him? …. DADA. DADA! WHAT DO PLANES SOUND LIKE”
– (while passing me the butter knife): “You hafta’ be nimble and skilled. Knifes is DANGEROUS. So miss Jeri says you hafta’ be nimble and skilled.”
As a parent, nothing is quite as startling as the realization that your child knows your first name.
The other night, we were sitting at dinner, and you casually informed us that my name was Ashley, and daddy’s name was Gus, and we both just looked at each other like WTF OMG WHO TOLD YOU
Like… it’s not as though we have kept our identities a secret from you these past three years; people have obviously referred to us by our actual names in your company… but the solid fact that you were just like, oh hey, here is this fact that I know, totally threw us off.
As of lately, you’re solidly in the center of that little kid thing where you ask “why” about pretty much everything, and/or you’ll take any answer we give you in response, and rephrase it back into a question.
It’s sort of like dark toddler magic.
In typical Nixon form, most of your questions wrap around concepts so much larger than anything I ever imagined your little brain could grasp.
For example, the other day, you simply asked, “Why fire?”
Not “where does it come from“, not “why is it in this particular location“… just simply “why” in relation to its entire existence.
…. needless to say, I’m going to learn so freaking much being your mama.
Sitting at a friend’s baby shower last month, three years’ worth of little dude in my lap, I thought back to our baby shower;
when it was me and my little basketball-sized bump in the chair at the front of the room, buried in a color-crinkled forest of tissue paper.
It was the weirdest, most surreal feeling, opening gifts and not having half a damn clue what some of them were even FOR;
opening gifts for a person who wasn’t even here yet, but who owned more pants than I did.
I remember the solid undercurrent of fear that ran immediately beneath the joy—
what if I sucked? what if I wasn’t ready?—
those prickles of “holy crap this is really happening” that settle in just before the biggest parts of your life.
Back then, inching week by week toward the greatest unknown, we had no idea what we were in for.
No clue I’d be so excited you were here that I wouldn’t sleep for the first solid 24 hours of your life.
No idea of what was coming at all.
And you know what, my love?
I’m so very glad it was you.