How can he be six?
In some ways, as cliche as it sounds, it seems like it was just yesterday we brought him home. He was so tiny, he wore premie clothes for the first two weeks. My thumb and index finger were able to circle his skinny little legs. I spent hours nestling him against my chest, his head and butt fitting perfectly into the palms of my hands. I breathed his scent - the light fresh powder combined with the sweetness of milk. I drank it in, filing it away in my memory.
And then before I could take a breath, he was one. Everyone we knew called him a decoy child. He fell asleep minutes after we laid him down. He never got into closed cupboards. He didn't put things in his mouth. He was happy sitting for a half hour in the same area, playing with his toys and his face lit up when anyone spoke to him. He jabbered constantly, his bright blue eyes sparkling.
And suddenly, he was two. He was a cautious two. He didn't climb unless he'd studied the structure carefully. He was apprehensive about slides and swings. He never ran away from me, preferring to hold my hand when walking. And he loved boats. All sizes, all shapes, all colors. We spent hours at local boat dealers walking up and down the lot, looking at boats. It was our secret Mommy-Son time.
I turned around and he was three. He lay next to me, my belly a mountain. He felt his sister kick his hand and lined toys across my bare stomach. He put the fronts of his Hot Wheels in my shallow belly button so little sister could play with them. He called her Alice and when she was born, told me quite seriously she was his.
I blinked and he was four. Our conversations became longer; his logic startled me. His mind soaked up knowledge faster than I could impart it. We Googled answers I didn't know and made up our own when the real answers bored us. He was firmly entrenched as my partner-in-gardening crime and was as helpless as I to resist a beautiful tomato plant. His patience with his sister brought tears to my eyes and his quirky sense of humor made me giggle.
But I'm still not sure how he turned five. It was so quick. So sudden. His world turned upside down and still he kept a smile on his face and a bounce in his step. He accepted our words and sometimes, I'm ashamed to say, reminded us of them. He held his sister's hand when she was afraid and rubbed my back when I was tired. He rolled his eyes at my silly explanations and sighed deep sighs when he thought I was being weird. He tells me it's okay when I make a mistake. He is the most amazing little boy I know.
And still, every now and then, when he crawls into bed with me, his body, so long, snuggled against mine, I breathe in his scent - the mint of toothpaste, the earthiness of fresh cut grass, the tang of sweat. I drink it in, storing it into my memory.
Happy birthday to my sweet Joseph. I'm so lucky to be your Mama, baby.