Five.

Dear Anthony,

You’re officially 5! That’s unbelievable. You’re not a toddler, not a preschooler, you are a bonafide five-year old which launches you into big kid status.

I am in a state of disbelief that five years have passed by in the hardest yet sweetest and most wonderful blur imaginable. Each year your personality continues to unfold and it is such a joy (usually) watching you grow. Because your mom is usually an emotional wreck and also has the memory of a carnival goldfish, I’m taking the time out to write you a letter in an attempt to capture you in all your five-year old glory. Chances are you’ll read this in embarrassment one day on Google/Amazon/Apple-only knows what device but I don’t care. I am your mother and pushed for two and a half hours with you so I sort of get to do what I want. Right?

Gosh, where to begin in typical gushing mom fashion. You are so sweetly perceptive. You notice if I get my nails painted and will give me compliments if I finally put some effort into my appearance. You have no idea how a simple “Oh Mommy, I like your hair!” makes me beam and want to gobble you up at the same time.

You thrust yourself wholeheartedly into your passions. Your current passion is LEGOs and I admit I am blown away by your ability to sit for hours, literal hours, as you put together set after LEGO set with little to no help from your dad or I. The fun for you is not in playing with the LEGOs once they’ve been built, but in the act of assembling them. It’s a neat sneak peek into the way your mind works. Will you be an engineer? Or one of those adults that has a grown-up collection of LEGOs that he never lets his kids touch?

You are a peacekeeper. That’s not to say that you’re not capable of making your own mischief, because believe me, you are. But more often than not you will share with your sister when you don’t need to, give her the toy she’s irrationally crying for even though it’s rightfully yours because you know it makes her stop. You misbehave, but you are quick to say sorry. Profusely. You’re going to make a great husband someday if all this keeps up.

This past year I saw for the first time you cry real tears over real things. I’m not talking “I didn’t get my way” tears I’m talking about “my feelings are hurt” tears. It broke my heart to know that I couldn’t fix it for you and could only hug you tight and try to arm you with the skill set to navigate these big kid hurts. This year brought about a tiny glimpse into the future. The protective utopia I’ve tried to create is disappearing before my very eyes and it scares me. The world is big and you still seem so small.

You want to be liked. You order the ice cream that your friends do.  You have this long and lean athletic body that looks so grown up as you run across the soccer and baseball field. You have the best giggle and natural smile. Your photo smile – well, you look a bit like a serial killer but in the most endearing of ways. Yellow is still your favorite color. You finally enjoy watching the Yankees and Notre Dame football games on TV. You gravitate towards numbers, order, and structure. Reminds me of this guy I married. Speaking of him, I’ve watched the two of you become much closer this past year as your common interests – the Yankees, Notre Dame football, baseball, and video games – align. The days seem long for you when he leaves for work. Wistful looks out the window followed by “I want my daddy…” sting a tad if I’m being honest. It’s overwhelming to be wanted and needed so completely, so constantly. But when it begins to fade away its devastating.

You are unexpectedly considerate and sweet. Last week during bath your sister had made “soup” and said it was for you only, and narrowing her eyes, declared that it was not for me. You smiled at me and whispered under your breath, “I’ll give you a bite, Mommy.” At times I like to think that you’re just very sensitive to me and the way things impact me. Moments like this litter our lives and when your sister is quick to crush my spirits, you are there to offer an extra kiss and a “Don’t worry, Mommy. I’ve got you!” The flip side is you seem so sensitive to my stress and my anxiety at times. I exasperate at the end of a long day and you are so sweetly apologetic in these moments that my mom guilt is instant. I need to work on that.

Over the summer we had a few hours to ourselves for our great sea glass adventure. I cannot tell you how full my my heart was walking hand in hand with you through the woods doing something so very simple. There weren’t other friends around, there wasn’t a huge splashy playground or farm to entertain you. It was just you and I chatting and observing and enjoying each others’ company. I delighted in your triumph over finding piece after piece of sea glass to add to your collection. I hope that this is the first of many mommy and AJR adventures. I hope that one day you’ll look back fondly at your jar of sea glass and remember just how much you loved your mom. I know that you will always love me, I don’t doubt that. But it will lose that fierceness, that intensity that little boys love their moms with, whereas my love will always be like that for you. That’s why these birthdays of yours are filled with so much joy and just the slightest twinge of sadness for me. Despite the fact that you continue to defy me and grow year after year, you will always be my little boy. Always. And when the world starts to feel a little too big and you feel a little small in it, my lap will always be waiting to gather up those gangly limbs of yours and hold you until you feel safe and secure again.

Happy 5th Birthday, Anthony. You are so much more than we could have ever dreamed of. I love you beyond measure!

Mommy

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