dear nixon: vol. 21

the sum of our ordinary days is made up of sunrise cereal & mason jars of iced coffee;
countertop car races, mornings not-quite-light yet, and wood floors worn in by a thousand stories.

I’d swear you came away from autumn a full foot taller,
more sunshine scattered through your hair.

Every day, you weave us a new adventure.

Tonight, it was repurposing the paper from inside an Amazon box to play “presents“, a game dedicated to taking turns wrapping up various treasures from around the room
and proudly presenting them to one another;
yesterday, the bed was our boat, purposefully loaded with a two-piece semi truck, your fishing pole, and no less than five Hot Wheels cars.

I watch you pull these worlds from thin air and spin them to life, and I marvel at what a brilliant magician you are;
the beautiful ways your mind sees the world, and the stories you create from it.

  • I have FUR! I have always wanted to have FUR!” – joyous exclamation from the back seat upon noticing your own leg hair
  • Mama: “What do you want to do when it’s your birthday?”
    Nixon: “Well, I think I’d like to celebrate at the grocery store.”
  • What color is YOUR imagination, mama? Mine is pink and blue.” – asked with eyes squeezed shut
  • HEY DADA! BOYS HAVE A PENIS, girls have A VAGINA! Did you forget?!?” – exclaimed brightly, and very loudly, as a couple walked past us in the very echo-y mall food court

Tucked in together in the cozy bedtime dark,
your little hand reaches over and gently rests on my wrist.

It’s so I remember you are here,” you whisper, snuggling in.

To “here” in all its forms, my love, in the very best ways I know how.


mama

summer, so far.

at three-and-just-past-half,
you are such a big soul that, every so often,
it’s easy to forget you’re still small.

 

you are pockets full of rocks and the smell of sunshine;
leaps and climbs and practice fishing casts from the middle of the kitchen table;
a thousand stories prefaced by, “Can I tell you some’fing?!“,
a million, “Hey, mama?“-s,
Spider-Man jams and scraped-up knees.

I love that, on the weekends, still half-draped in sleep weight,
you’ll tumble out of the bedroom and come straight to where I am.

Sleepily, slowly,
you tuck yourself in against me;
arm stretching out like an anchor across my chest,
cheek cuddled against me,
your breath still the even, steady measure of midafternoon dreams.

It’s a song we’ve written together without even realizing;
words we’ve memorized through years of post-nap slow dances.

You have your part and I have mine,
seamlessly woven together across a living room brilliant in winterlight,
tinted with the sunwash of spring,
warmed by midsummer sunshine,
painted with the subtle hush of fall.

  • (while pooping) “Can we read ‘da colors book? Then it will make my poop surprised, and it will come out!
  • Now, when I dance, my sleeves won’t fall off!” – your thoughts on wearing a tank top
  • Nixon: “Someday, I want to go to South Dakota.
    Mama: “Cool, man, what do you wanna do there?
    Nixon (shrugging): “I just want to see if there’s some furniture to sit on.
  • I have tried this before. It worked out.” – on why you need a clothespin
  • (with a refreshing sigh, upon returning to the water after the mandatory break at the pool) “I feel like myself again!
  • If I pooped in here, the water would taste like cucumbers and quesadilla.” – very cheerfully mid-swim, also at said pool
  • (bailing mid-conversation, upon noticing a new kid has arrived at the park) “THERE IS A FRIEND THAT NEEDS MET

Your sense of excitement, much like your mama’s, knows no bounds.

When you find, see, hear, or read something you love, it’s of the utmost importance that THIS SPECIFIC NEW EXCITEMENT IS SHARED WITH OTHERS—
including, but not limited to:
bites of food
lines from movies
ants
rocks
water, particularly if there is a chance it can be fished
the way the sky looks
and, most recently: an ultra-gigantic koi in the pond at the park.

Like.
You legitimately chased down a grown-ass man (shouting, “HEY, MAN! HEY, LITTLE FELLA!”) to ensure he was aware of this fish’s existence.

Fish are a thousand percent your jam right now anyway, but the fact this one was gigantic, orange, AND nearby?

You were in awe
and so thrilled by its presence, you wanted to make sure everyone in the vicinity shared this joy with you.

Whether it was big kids, babies, families, random old people, awkward teenagers… you would cheerily wave them over to your self-appointed spot of honor on the dock, inviting them to join you with a, “HEY! Hey, fwend! Wanna see some’fing? It is a FISH! A BIG FISH!”

Sometimes, they’d ride that joy wave right alongside you;
other times, they’d deliver the cursory nod of acknowledgement and nothing more.

Regardless, you owned that happiness as surely as if there was no other way;
whether they were sharing in it with you, or leaving it there for you to keep all to yourself.

It’s a weird gift to bring with you, this love of life that sparks itself brighter and higher than most—
but it’s honest, and genuine, and true.

As your mama, it’s my job to stoke whatever little fires light up your soul and make you, you;
and its my greatest hope that you hold on to this particular spark (and all that follow) ever so strongly,
and with as much conviction and honor as you did that brilliant summer day.

This night?

The one where it rained in tiny bursts,
and we shared a corn dog almost as tall as you,
and you stood back, every inch the tiny gentleman, to ensure other friends in line made it safely through the gate to get on the rides?

This night was more than just a milestone for you, sweetest boy.

That night, for the first time, I got to be the mama on the other side of the carnival ride;
waving back at her boy every time he passed by,
and getting to be the wide-open arms he ran into after.

Know that,
always and no matter what—
regardless of what ride you’re on—

you can look out and find me in the crowd, okay?

Wide-open arms and all,
 mama.

three-and-an-almost-half.

We talked about you before you were even here, you know.

Every single night, and in a thousand spaces in between,
while the spark of light & stardust & high fives that was you quietly flipped and swirled just under my ribcage,
slightly south of my heartbeat,
in the tiny-infinite space between us and you.

What we knew then was as much as you can know about someone who’s with you every day, every moment, but who you’ve never met:
That you liked 10-p.m. dance parties and snacks every two hours,
walks in the morning, not the maternity jeans with the stupid band at the top,
and always, always pizza.

What we didn’t know yet was that it’d be possible to simultaneously love someone so much and also be sobbing from exhaustion because of them;
how you’d sleep just like your mama, your top leg bent out and up like a perpetual dream-hurdler;
how, suddenly, every single line of our lives “before” would blur in a way that felt like you’d been here always;
how you’d love-weave this entire world together, starting with the first thread of your first breath on your first morning here.

We still talk about you all the time, you know.

Every single night and in the thousand spaces in between,
the beautifulchaos of three-and-an-almost half settling around us in the form of grass-stained 3T jeans and a landscape of Nerf darts,
your red Cozy Coupe (which, depending on the day, is also a fire car, a police car, and occasionally the Spider-Car) parked in the living room, a trail of snacks and Hot Wheels foreverin your wake.

What we know now is you’re absolutely the raddest adventure we’ve ever chosen;
that you still like snacks every two hours, adventure walks as often as you can get them—
and still, of course, always, pizza.

– The way you pronounce “oatmeal” as “OIT-meal
– “You blew ‘dem to PIECES!” – Your dramatic reaction to a wayward bullet straight to the junk, courtesy of daddy’s Nerf gun
– “Mmmm! This tastes like beers!” – thoughts on a root beer sucker
– “I think this is terrible.” – Initial thoughts upon hearing a cover of Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling in Love
– (midway through pooping) “… hmm. It stopped. My poop must be sleeping.
– “‘dat is ‘skusting… can I have some more?” – Thoughts on my impressive fail of a Pinterest strawberry bar recipe
– “Well, first we need to get some rices. And ‘den cheese, to make it really stretchy.” – Your plans for making Rice Krispy treats

On April 7th, you rode your very first bike for the very first time.

This was one of Those Moments, man.

There you were, just pedaling away in all your little dudedom, and suddenly, we were right in the middle of it:
A rad little milestone we’d talked about for years, watching families pedal by us at the park as you snuggle-napped against my chest, or even just passing by the tiny-sized bikes at the store.

Every time, your daddy and I would look at each other and be like, “Dude, we get to teach OUR kid to ride his bike someday“—

and then there we were,
watching your little legs pedalpedalpedal their way down the sidewalk,
the two of us looking at each other and barely even believing we were already here.

Prior to catching your first fish, as your daddy tells it,
you joyously invited every single someone you saw—
from the cashier at the store, to random strangers in line nearby—
to join you, your daddy, and your new fishing pole at the lake later that day.

When I got home, you were busily casting with your new pole in the front yard.

I’m practicin’ my skills, mama,” you explained, barely looking up before expertly launching the tiny plastic fish on one end of your line well into the middle of the yard next door.

Not too long later, we were setting up our spot on a sun-warmed dock, swapping out your plastic fish for a hook, some bait, and a red-and-white bobber.

Then, as you tell it,
Well, I was bein’ patient. And ‘den, the fish was hungry, and it smelled my bait, and it bited it, so my bobber went down, and ‘den, I caught the fish!

My absolute favorite part of this picture, my love, is that I can’t tell who’s prouder or more excited:
You, or your daddy.

A room away from where I’m writing to you, you’re dreaming in Spider-Man jams—
tucked in with a crown of forehead kisses, wrapped in the cozygood of weekend-clean sheets.

Earlier, as we were snuggling down together, I marveled at the way the landscape of your little face has changed so much since you were new, and yet, there’s places that still look the same—
the sweet curves of your forehead and nose,
the squish of your cheeks,
the lines and rounds of you I’ve read over and over since your first day here.

That’s what makes being three such an adventure, I think:
The balance forever shifting between “there’s my baby” and “there’s my boy,”
every day bringing us just a little bit closer to the moment it shifts in favor of the latter.

It’s never been a wilder or more wonderful time to be your mama, my dude.