Dear Atticus, on turning two.

In lieu of a post about what is saving my life this week, I give you this post commemorating Atticus’s second birthday.

Dear Atticus,

You are two years old! On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, I updated my friends with a play-by-play version of what was happening at the same time two years ago. I did, in fact, use the word placenta. They were about as happy with that as you would expect.

We had a party for your birthday with a vaguely Muppet-y theme. Your year has been filled with Mahna-Mahna and “Moving Right Along.” You watched Emmet Otter and love that one Elmo song. We sang “Rainbow Connection” more times than I can count.

To celebrate, we put up streamers (which you declared to be “so pretty”) and got some cupcakes. Your dad made four kinds of soup and I made tissue paper balls. Your friends kind of made sock puppets and you played your drums like Animal. Our house was filled with joyful noise.

There was one thing that happened that marred the day. Some streamers got caught in our fan and caused the bulb cover to fall and shatter. Thankfully no one was hurt, but you? You were undone. You were still shaking at bedtime. We have talked through it several times since then, and you are doing better. It breaks my heart to think that that is what you (or anyone) will remember about your birthday. I hope that’s not true. I hope you remember the drums and the way you felt when everyone sang.

2012 was a good year for me, Atticus. I got some health issues under control and made choices that have made me a happier person. I went to the Glen workshop and read a lot of books. When you learned to walk, I said that you suddenly settled into your own skin. I feel that way now about myself.

It was a good year for you, too. You loved our new deck and the pool across the street. You learned so many words and used your left hand an awful lot. We visited the beach and Washington DC. You made friends at school and experienced actual play dates. You were pretty sick at the beginning of the year, but once you got tubes in your ears, all of that changed. Grammy watched you several days a week in the spring, cementing her status as your favorite person in the universe.

This was an easier year for our family. We slept more and watched you develop interests in trucks and music and pizza. You bring joy to the people around you as you run and laugh and throw yourself wholeheartedly into everything you do. Transitions are hard sometimes, but you have been working on controlling your responses. Sometimes I can see the effort in your face as you try not to yell NO and it makes me so proud of you. I am proud of so many things you do. You can spell your name and sing the alphabet and you know your colors. You brush it off when you fall down. You share pretty well with your friends (unless they want to play with your lawnmower). You are learning to respect boundaries and how to listen. I am even proud of things that are hard for me: how loud you can be, how much energy you have. I love the person you are becoming.

At the beginning of the year, I attended a meeting that made me feel hopeless and misunderstood. On Christmas Eve, the words that resonated with me had to do with having a heart of flesh. That was part of the journey I made in 2012, and it’s what I plan to focus on in 2013. I said yes to things in 2012 for myself and because I want you to have a mother who takes care of herself in all kinds of ways. This year, I am going to focus on being soft-hearted because I think it’s a different way of taking care of our family. I want to be more open to people and forgiveness and change. I don’t want to keep on making do with this heart of stone.

Your dad and I are opposite in so many ways. He looks back and remembers the good things, and I look back and remember the bad. The jagged edges, the broken fan. 2012 was different for me, though. It seems like a picture from childhood: edges tinged with gold, fuzzy in the best of ways. I hope that any memories you have from your second year are like that: soft like old furniture worn smooth, like well-loved blankets. Soft like I want my heart to be.


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