They Say It’s His Birthday

May 18, 2011

It’s Jasper birthday today. He’s three. Don’t tell him that, though.

Me, this morning: “Is it your birthday today, Jasper? Happy birthday!”

Jasper: “No, Mommy, not my birthday. YOUR birthday.” He’s close: my birthday is just a couple of days away. Still, you’d think that the child would be kinda pleased about having a birthday. Birthdays are awesome when you’re a kid. Less so once you’re a grown-up, but still.

Me: “No, baby. It’s YOUR birthday. You’re three! Happy birthday!”

Jasper: “NO, Mommy, I NOT. IS NOT MY BIRTHDAY.”

Okay, then.

I’m fine with it if he wants to deny his birthday. I want to deny his birthday. I would be perfectly happy if he stayed 35 and a half months old indefinitely. I’m still in love with his babyhood, with his fat-thighed, round-bottomed, chubby-cheeked toddlerness, with his adorable littleness, with his ineffable small. I’m not ready to say goodbye to the Jasper who is my baby, even though, yes, I know that he will in all the important respects always be my baby, because I am still clinging to him as my actual baby, my neck-clinging, Mommy-needing, tucked-against-my-chest-always-always baby.

This has much to do with the fact that we will not have more babies – there’s a whole other set of thoughts to unpack – and I know that it is selfish and I know that I should just celebrate the journey that is his life and rejoice at the him who he is at every moment, the past Jaspers and the now Jaspers and the future Jaspers, but still, but still.

I want to hold him here, and keep him. Just like this, just like now.

As long as I possibly can. Until I no longer can. Which might be now, which probably is now, because it’s every moment, because with every moment I lose something of the old Jasper, and even though the new is wonderful, is amazing, still, still, I mourn and cling to the old.

Is that so wrong?

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    get going girly May 18, 2011 at 9:29 am

    I was looking for a picture for a post yesterday and what should have been a 2 minute task turned into an afternoon surrounded by photo albums and used tissue as I watched my kids grow up in a rapid fire slide show. My son, who is my oldest, is 15 and it absolutely breaks my heart that when he sees me at school now he ducks instead of running down the hallway with his arms thrown wide yelling mommeeeeeeeee like he used to. I was his everything and now I am his burden to bear. Embrace this time, the innocence and most importantly those hugs that seem to last forever.

    Angella May 18, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Not wrong. MY baby turns five this year and starts Kindy and when I think about it it makes me miss all three of my kids, as babies. Hugs, lady.

    Happy Birthday, Jasper! And you. :)

    Minka May 18, 2011 at 10:10 am

    I soooo feel your pain and your joy and your ambivalence. My youngest, my son, is going to be 7 in August. And he is still very much my baby. I have had such a hard time with him growing up not only because he is my last baby, but because he was/is such a good one. Was a sweet, happy infant, and today is still such a sweet kid. In fact, “sweet” and “kind” are two of the adjectives most people, even new acquaintances, most often use to describe my son.

    It’s weird, because I’m so… not sweet. I am actually kind of a bitch. And so I marvel that this being of light and joy came out of me. I even say that aloud to him ALL THE TIME. It’s a private joke in our family. I always say to my husband — are you absolutely POSITIVE that you never let him out of your sight at the hospital after I gave birth and they took him for all those tests?

    But, my son does have my sarcasm gene, and my ridiculous sense of humor, so I guess I sort of believe it… deep down… that he’s really mine.

    My daughter is my clone, in looks and temperament and so… yeah, she is CLEARLY mine.

    My son still loves to cuddle, loves to be close. Our joke is that when he’s too big to sit on my lap, that I will have to sit on his. That when I can no longer carry him around on my back, (as I still often do, though my knees are pretty pissed off about it), he will have to carry me.

    No doubt this will all change. He already has certain “rules” about what I can and cannot do in front of his classmates. But he often forgets these rules when I show up to volunteer and he races over and wraps his arms around me and kisses me without shame.

    It’s kind of great. Actually, it’s kind of amazing.

    I don’t think it’s wrong of us to feel this way. Sometimes it’s just hard to overcome the sadness. We are mourning the loss of the baby that is leaving us, while welcoming the new incarnations of that person as they mutate and arrive and depart and are once more replaced by a new mutation/incarnation. Parenting is so full of mourning that sometimes it’s hard to focus on the joy of the new person that arrives.

    So I just try to wring out every last bit of his babyhood while I can, and try not to cry… too much.

    Hope you and your baby both have excellent birthdays.

    Jessica May 18, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I feel exactly, EXACTLY, the same way. Except for when my 2 year old turns three on June 2nd, she will not be denying it. She’s already running full tilt away from babyhood and clinging to her mommy.

    While I am extraordinarily proud of the bright, hilarious, adventurous little girl she’s turning into before my eyes, how can I help but miss the baby who used to curl up on my chest and sleep with her hand clenched in my hair?

    We haven’t completely shut the door on the possibility of a third child, but I’m realistic enough to know that Keebee is probably my last.

    I think this is just another one of those things that makes motherhood so bittersweet.

    I hope you and Jasper both have wonderful birthdays. :)

    Mrs. Wilson May 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    That is not wrong AT ALL. I totally get that. My oldest is turning 10 in July and I’m already freaking out, more than two months before it actually happens.

    Happy Birthday, Jasper! And congratulations on having a three-year-old, Catherine!

    Lisa May 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    If it’s wrong, I don’t wanna be right. My daughter just turned 3 about 4 weeks ago. I want to freeze her at this age, too. and yes, it’s looking like she’ll be our only.

    Strangely, she also was not happy about turning 3. Actually burst into tears. Very odd.

    The Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful May 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    This is why the invented cryogenic freeze. Just zap, ziploc, visit in cold storage. That sounds creepier than I thought it would.

    Tessa May 18, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    It’s not selfish at all. My oldest turned 4 yesterday and I’m a mess about it. I wish I could hold onto the littleness, too.

    FreeRange Pamela May 18, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Totally get it. And mine, strangely, also wants to deny his growing up. I tell him that he is a little boy, and he corrects me, saying he’s a baby. He tells me he’s the baby, and his older brother is a boy. I tell him he’ll always be my baby, which, of course, he will, no matter how old he gets.

    Kimberly Hosey (Arizona Writer) May 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Aww; happy birthday to your little guy. And I totally get it. Mine’s NINE now. I swear, he was three, like, yesterday.

    Christina D. May 18, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Happy birthday, Jasper!

    I say cling. Breathe it in, process it, taste it, smell it… all those things that you associate with his babyness. These are things that may sustain you in days to come; remembering how he and you felt when you held him close to your heart. When he didn’t push to get down and run. It is this time, when they are small, that they are closest to Pure Life, Pure Oxytocin. When they haven’t learned to hide or judge or belittle. When they are just Baby. Pure unadulterated baby essence. It’s intoxicating and oh so hard to give up.

    I think it’s our duty to compassionately witness and fully mourn the passing of all that magic.

    Alison Golden May 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Yes, I understand this completely. I have twin boys, no more babies and even though they are eleven, I still cling on to every year, relinquishing it only when the evidence cannot be disputed.

    Wolf Pascoe May 18, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I’ve been lurking a few weeks. Just had to chime in on this. We have one kid, soon to be nine, and I think about this all the time. You just want to breathe in every moment and never let it go. This morning we had a talk and I said, “This will be your last year in single digits.” He said, “Do I get a bigger present?”

    tali May 18, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    i loved this post. sometimes i want to shake some sense into the sentimental side of me but other times, like when i think about my babies getting older, i’m happy to feel all the sweet sappiness because i know that too soon, that will one day be gone.
    i shake my fist at father time and have become the walking cliche that thinks “time flies” on a daily basis.
    thanks for putting into words (very succinctly i might add) what so many of us are feeling as birthdays loom and life happens.
    love your blog and am so happy i found it!

    dutchy May 19, 2011 at 3:39 am

    I so understand what you’re saying. My baby is just 14 months and I already miss his infant days. :-)

    red pen mama May 19, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Aw, happy birthday to your baby boy.

    I think this is why we blog and take pictures and video, and tell stories. To remember these days because we are all too aware that they disappear — in a flash, in a whisper.

    Orlandoescape May 19, 2011 at 11:02 am

    We have a two and a half year old girl who is 11 years apart from her sister. She is adorable but sometimes her terrible two’s kicks in and we all sit and watch her till she realizes of it is time to stop. It is amazing how she can change. We have video taped it to show her in her teens. We are having a great time with her we are so blessed.


    The Mommy Therapy May 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I feel this exact same way about my daugther turning one in a few weeks. I want to trap her at exactly this age. She’s adorable, she sleeps, she doesn’t thrown tantrums unless they are tinged with cuteness, she doesn’t talk back, she cuddles, and she has the fattest thighs in the house and they are so, so, so squeezable.

    I can only imagine how I will be when she is turning the big 3! She is also our last so I definitely think there is something about trapping them to keep at least one of our kids small and innocent and safe.

    I try to think of all the good things that come with them getting a little older whenever I start to go over the edge about losing my baby. But, I’m sort of with you, enjoying the journey is MUCH easier said than done.

    Happy birthday to your Jasper.

    ahdra May 19, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Lately when I look in my little girl’s face, I just want to drink her in. I feel time quickly passing now…kindergarten is breathing down my neck. She is so itty bitty petite, so even at almost 5 I still pick her up and swing her around like a baby sometimes, because she will always be my baby, and she giggles and says in her little pixie voice…”I love you Mommy.” Oh, I will miss the littleness. I really do look forward to the big girl talks and to hearing her growing-up view of things and just watching her turn into who she is going to be, but I will miss being able to pick her up and feeling the little legs and arms squeeze in tight while she buries her face in my neck. These are precious times.

    Jenifer May 19, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    You nailed it! When my littlest turns three look out…I will be a bigger mess.

    Jenifer May 19, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Oh, and of course Happy (none) Birthday Jasper!

    Forgotten May 20, 2011 at 8:37 am

    It is a bitter pill to swallow…aging is not fair when you’re watching your children grow. My baby turned 2 in March and I’m still not over it. She just weaned in November so she’s breaking my heart a little at a time with this growing up stuff. Oh, how we love them so…

    john cave osborne May 20, 2011 at 9:37 am

    the first time i ever had those type of thoughts about the triplets, oddly enough, was right after their third birthday. as that’s when it dawned on me that it wouldn’t be too long before we’d have no pudgy hands and naked dashes with a dragging-blanket chaser.

    i remember encouraging myself to remember every single second, for my tiny trio would provide me the last chance to behold such miraculous innocence and beauty at such a precisely perfect age.

    then the universe proved me wrong and nearly gave me an ulcer when my wife got pregnant w surprise child number 5. smelling salts, people. live ‘em. learn ‘em. love ‘em.

    GingerB May 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Oh I just want to hold hands with you and all your readers who are sharing these feelings with us – and shout “me too, me too! I can’t stand it! Make time stand still!” And my witless husband just wants the potty training stage to end. I could be forced to wipe that bum for the rest of my days and I wouldn’t complain if I got to keep the baby she is now forever. I know I will love the Claire and the Hannah of the future but the girls they are right now? I never, ever want to let them go. My youngest is barely shy of two years and ten months. Just this morning, as she sat on the toilet, practicing for going “poo-poo on the poppy” I cried admiring the vision of beauty before me but with regret that her legs look so much more like little girl legs than baby legs. So I got my camera out because naked baby pictures are even more fun when the naked baby is on the toilet, and she crossed her wee legs like a grownup and posed for the camera. It will be all I can do to not post the picture on my blog.

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