Ways this Kindergarten Mom is just like One Direction Fangirl.

I’ve long since grown out of my preteen/teen fangirl-dom. Or so I thought. Until I realized that Kindergarten pick up was very similar to the tweens outside the 1D concert.

Fangirl catching a glimpse of Harry Styles, OR is it a gif of me catching a glimpse of my son waiting to get picked up?

Trapped in traffic getting to the concert or me trapped in the parking lot while I can see him looking sad because he doesn’t see me?

Teen waving furiously to attract Liam’s attention or me leaning out the window of my rad minivan waving to my baby?

When Niall won’t post for a picture or when I catch a glimpse of him trying to talk a friend in line and they don’t notice him.

When Zayne give you a smile or when Max sees me and gives me that special little wave and jump that he has seen me:

When I finally get to hug him after school:

 

I may no longer be a tween fangirl, but sometimes I sure act like it. Luckily right now he thinks it’s cool. But before you know it this will be him when he sees me coming:

 

Good Luck to him! And also to his little brother and sister. Cause I’m gonna do the same damn things to them!

 

 

 

Helping your anxious child

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Starting Kindergarten is an adjustment for every child, but when you have an anxious child it can be particularly stressful. We’ve been working very hard to build Max’s confidence and give him some tools he can use himself when he feels anxious. As school has been progressing we have seen an uptick in his anxiety attacks and I thought I’d share with you some of the things we have been using in case your child is also suffering from anxiety.

Try not to get frustrated with them:
This can be really hard when it’s bedtime and suddenly they are panicked. I have gotten frustrated a time or two (or three) and this really does nothing but make Max feel unheard and more uneasy. He is coming to me because he knows I can and will make him feel safe. When I discount that, it makes his anxiety worse. It also ends up taking a lot longer to go through the attack and come out the other side than if I had just stopped and gone through it with him. Trust me, even when the timing couldn’t be worse, using a kind voice and reassuring them that you are there with them really helps. They’re not manipulating us or lying, they are in distress and even when it really is frustrating taking the time to honor their experience is the best path.

Deep breathing can reset the central nervous system:
We practice deep breathing together. This helps settle his nervous system and keeps him from hyperventilating. Sometimes we add a phrase to it like “good thoughts in, bad thoughts out” as we breathe.

Focus on the present:
I talk him through what’s happening right now. For instance “right now we are sitting together on the couch, we are cuddled up and your brother is playing play doh, your sister is napping and everything is okay.” This can also be helpful if you have other children. I have a three year old and a baby still nursing, so sometimes I have to deal with more than one child crisis at a time. This can be a good thing because he learns the world keeps going even while he is panicking. I can say “I’m nursing Piper right now, come snuggle me and let’s breathe.” Then we can go right into what is happening, we are snuggling while Piper eats and Huck is drinking milk…etc.

There is no rhyme or reason to the triggers and they frequently have nothing to do with anything:
My son can sometimes see something really scary on the news and it doesn’t affect him at all (I try to change the channel or turn the tv off so he doesn’t see it, but sometimes things happen) but then last night he had a big panic attack because he thought we sold an old guitar at our yard sale last summer. Last summer as in 2013 summer. Sometimes the triggers are clear and easily handled and sometimes it seems like they are out of left field and in a foreign language, and this can be frustrating (see my first tip) just know that whatever it is, however it is exhibiting itself it is very real to our children. Even if it makes no sense to us at all.

Listen to them:
Sometimes Max can verbalize exactly what is happening with him, what set him off and how he is feeling. If I listen and acknowledge and validate his feelings -not by assuring him that the laundry was indeed a monster but by saying “I understand, sometimes things look different in different lights and that can be scary” that goes a long way.

Tell them they are not alone:
At some point in our lives we have felt anxious about something. Use that. We forget sometimes how small their worlds are. I remember the first time I told Max that I had felt that way too. It blew his mind. He truly thought he was the only person in the world suffering and that made him feel very alone. Now he knows I have felt that way, and Daddy and Grandma too.

Celebrate their victories:
After a particularly rough bedtime he woke in the morning full of pride that he had made it through the night. So we celebrated that. Good Job Max!

If they are old enough, explain the physiology:
Towards the end of his anxiety attack last night he said his heart felt jumpy and that scared him. I explained in very simple terms adrenaline and how it works. Then I used an example of when it works in his favor, for instance on the baseball field. When the ball comes to him his body releases a jolt of adrenaline and that lets him hit, run or catch the ball quickly without even thinking about it. But it’s no good when you’re feeling anxious and your body reacts to what your mind is thinking. He really liked knowing how that worked and his heart racing was a little less scary.

Distract them:
We talk about happy things. We are going to the zoo this week with his friends and he can’t wait. We had a great time at a petting zoo this weekend and that was cool, we go over how he fielded that ball in the game last week. Things like that. We talk about Christmas or birthdays or whether we think his friend is getting a new sister or brother. We talk about whatever cute thing Huck or Piper did that day. You get the point.

Listen when they tell you what they need:
Max is getting very good at asking for what he needs, whether it is snuggles, to breathe, to go over happy things whatever it is. Sometimes if he has an attack during the day he will come to me and say he is having trouble and he needs a snuggle or to do “the thing” The thing is simply breathing and I talk him through calming down.

Make sure they get enough sleep and eat right:
If Max doesn’t get enough sleep or has too much sugar his anxiety goes up. He is now old enough to know that one affects the other and sometimes when I say “Okay you’ve already had a popsicle so no more” he accepts it easier because he knows if he has too much sugar it’s harder for him. On the other hand there have been times when this exact thing can cause panic. For instance he doesn’t want cake at a birthday party because he is afraid of having a panic attack. I reassured him that it was okay to have the cake and we would have a good dinner with a lot of protein to balance it out. He was then able to have the cake happily and let go of that worry.

Find a bedtime routine that reassures them and helps them sleep:

This can take a great deal of trial and error, but finding a way to send them off to dreamland feeling secure and cared for is important for all children, but especially those with anxiety.
We have created ‘The thing” and he asks every night if we can do it. It’s a bit of a guided relaxation we have developed together. We start with breathing, then go over the happy things from the day, then breathe and thinking about what’s happening at this exact moment and then we take a deep breath in and blow out and then we sing a song. Sometimes it’s Here Comes The Sun but mostly it’s Baby Mine and then we go to sleep.

Work on something they can do by themselves out in the world:
We are working on this, right now he knows he can go into the restroom and just breathe if he needs too. We haven’t developed a real game plan for this but so far just knowing he can do that if he needs to is okay. I also tell him to draw a picture of what’s scaring him if he is at school and then we can talk about it when he gets home.

As with anything, it takes a while to figure out what works for our kids. I hope this helps. This is what works for us.

 

 

 

 

And on this the *cough cough* day of my birth…

 

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Every year around this time, we indulge in several of my favorite things…apple ciders, scarves, boots, and you know, it’s also my birthday. (I like my birthday. Who doesn’t like a day where everyone you ever met sends you a facebook message wishing you a good day!) Every year as I wrap myself in a scarf and scroll all the internet shopping sites for the perfect pair of caramel leather riding boots that aren’t more expensive than my van, I think to myself this, this is the year I am gonna get my shit together. 

Then another year passes and I am still sipping my hard apple cider, wrapped in a scarf, looking for this years perfect boots and my proverbial shit? still not together.

At what age do I manage to learn how to master the illusive task of washing, drying, folding AND putting away all of the unending laundry? When do I know what I want to be when I grow up?

This year is not a big birthday, but yet another year has passed and I feel as if I have been treading water for a while now.

Now I fight both acne and ‘fine lines’ and how is THAT fair? I no longer want to pay a lot of money to look fashionably homeless and disheveled, but I am not ready for the ever present cruise wear tunic of the ‘women’s department’. I am somewhere trapped between the juniors and seniors and struggling to find my way.

My new fashion rule of thumb is Am I pulling an Amy Poehler in Mean Girls? Cause if so…then no. 

I am done having children. Still in the thick of baby and toddler boot camp. I am more concerned about what is in my kids food and products. I am frightened by how we keep saying we’ve made all this progress and yet it doesn’t really seem we have… I am guilty for feeling so thankful that if someone sees my boys on the street in a hoodie their first thought probably won’t be ‘thug’, and I worry about their friends who aren’t afforded this privilege.I am worried my daughter will be as insecure and sick as I was, that she will turn her insecurity on herself in destructive ways as I did.

I am hopeful they will  come out the other side of all that pre-teen and teen bull unscathed…or at least only gently scarred.

And I hope this is the year I get my shit together. I’ll start by folding the laundry.

Multitasking Baby Style..

This picture has nothing to do with anything. I just like it.

This picture has nothing to do with anything. I just like it.

When I was nursing Max at night I would hover over a book dimly lit by an ineffective booklight. I chose something mindless…the Twilight Series. Good Lord. I don’t think I read anything with Huck, I was too exhausted. For Christmas this past year Zach gave me a mini iPad and along with my Arbonne RE-9, my trusty old second hand Louis and my birthday sapphire it is my very favorite material object I own. Having been to this rodeo before Zach hooked me up. He put Netflix and Oyster on there and changed my life.

For reals.

There are times when Piper shotguns at night and is back asleep in ten minutes from start to finish, then there are times when she wants to enjoy her meal…for like 2 hours. I am no longer hunched over reading a dimly lit book, oh no, I am reading good book after good book on oyster and watching both good (West Wing) and bad (Hemlock Grove) shows on Netflix.

I confess I like reading in the late hours better than watching. I was such a big reader before the babies came and this has made me fall in love with it. In the last two months I may be a suburban mom who frequents Target and Starbucks but I have suffered incredible heartbreak, come of age as a lesbian in a revival religion, followed a young woman as she pieces her life back together and discovers hidden secrets in her family and left my aching soul on a Nigerian beach with Little Bee. I have taken a journey through a young man questioning and living life from an all boys school to New York and back again. I felt as if it were happening to me as a young girl loses her parents and is adopted by her uncle, a Priest.

Reading takes me away to a world in a different way than movies or tv shows.  Sometimes my world seems very small, happy and loved but small. I don’t take grand trips and my coming of age angst has passed, but these stories keep me connected, keep me thinking of more than how to avoid watching Caillou. I hate that little bald brat.

Last night I finished In One Person, and someone asked why I would read the life of a bisexual man…why not? I am not a bisexual man, and while I did find myself feeling a bit priggish at times during it, my God what a good story. I loved the protagonists grandfather and stepfather. I wanted it to be real, I wanted to believe that in the 50′s there were such men who loved and cared and looked out for one another and their secrets. Surely there must have been.

I’m scrolling on Oyster now, just trying to decide what world to delve into next.

oh…that middle child.

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Yesterday Huck came up to me while I was working at his grandfather’s desk and said “I can’t find me.” Despite having rectified the no-printed pictures of the second born crisis, I hadn’t yet framed one for grandpa’s desk. Shame on me. Luckily this one was easily handled as I now have photos printed weekly.

So it was that this week, after months of asking, Huck started soccer. It wasn’t that we had meant to push his request aside. I just sort of got lost in life. Max had T-ball all summer then we had a baby and omg suddenly Huck had been begging for ages and no soccer had been arranged. I finally said to Zach, dude, Max was like I want baseball and BAM next day, baseball. We need to get this little Huckleberry in some soccer. BAM, next day, soccer.

Zach was insistent we take him to get him his very own new cleats (even if we already had some) and here I confess, I was wrong. Huck’s sheer glee over going to get his shoes for soccer was over the top and even if he doesn’t remember it, Zach, Max and I sure will.

Huck’s first day came early on a muggy, unbearably hot Saturday morning. We were miserable. Huck was sweaty, tired and in heaven. As he took the field Max remarked with a heavy sigh “Oh. They grow up so fast.”  Huck was the tiniest one on the team. His coach went out of his way to make sure that Huck got to grab a flag and get a cone in the games but he was thwarted by faster, stronger kids. At one point he nearly got the cone before it was swooped up by another boy. Huck stood in shock and then melted. It was so heartbreaking.

They played a game where they were cheetahs-running fast and making big kicks- and we heard his sweet little voice from across the field say “I A CHEETAH!” it was so cute and he was so, so happy.

IMG_4382-1“I a cheetah!”

So we resolve to move quicker on Huck’s interests…he may have had to wait. But it was worth it.

 

 

 

 

All the boy babies are leaving…..

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He was adamant he carry his bag. To the car, to the school, and to put it on his name plate – there was to be no helping him. Thank you very much.

I knew that sending Huck off to his first day of preschool would be different than sending Max. First of all the simple circumstances dictated it; we had been in that school for three years and now know all the teachers, the classrooms, and most importantly the playground. Huck himself had been there every week since he was 3 months old, saving for summer vacations. He knew the teachers and the classrooms and how it works.  He is a different kid than Max. He maintained that I was staying with him at class, although I prepared him that I was going to leave, Daddy was going to leave but we would be back to pick him up just as we had with Max.

He has been waiting, waiting to do what brother does and his gleeful cry of “It’s mine day! Mine School!” when I told him it was time to go to school said it all.

He was first into the classroom sitting right down at a table until his teacher asked him if he wanted to take out some toys. You don’t have to ask Huck twice on that front, dude had toys less that 2 seconds later. I snapped a few pics, kissed that sweet, golden Dennis the Menace hair and we scooted out the door…

Call us if you need us, I told my very favorite teacher ever. (Seriously FB suggested I friend her and I didn’t because I don’t think it would be healthy for me…I love her that much. )

No matter how much you love the school and the teachers and how much you trust the administration there is, at least for me, a battle of instincts. My instinct is to run in and gather my baby in my arms and never leave him. What I do is get in my car and go to Starbucks and get a drink because in this instance my instinct isn’t in his best interest. He is ready. He loves to play games and do puzzles and he is so bored of me. He wants to go to school. He wants to paint and color and play and make friends. He is ready.

But he told us emphatically he does not want to go on the red thing on the playground. Which, incidentally next to the swings, is Max’s second favorite thing on the playground. He could spin on that all day. We assured him he didn’t have to go on it at all. He seemed relieved, oh that that should be the biggest worry about school ever, right?

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I needn’t have worried. Huck had been waiting for so long to do what Max does. By the time I got through the throng of parents at the door Huck was the last one in classroom…a situation that would have Max thinking I was never coming. I caught a glimpse of him and he was playing happily with a toy, he saw me and (thank God for small mercies) his whole face lit up. He raced to grab my hand and show me everything in his classroom.

I scooped him up in my arms and he rested his head on my shoulder, so tired from the excitement of the day. His teacher told me “Stephanie, he was perfect! He followed directions, he sat for story time. He was an angel!”

Of course he was. He saved his devilish side for me. I took him to get a donut, the first day of school deserves a treat, don’t you think? His chest was puffed out with pride all day.

It was, in a word, perfect.

 

 

One of the weirdest things about motherhood…

 

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When Max was a tiny cherub of a breastfed baby, I swear to you his tiny baby poops smelled like roses. Everyone thought I was crazy but I swear it was true. (Recently my very brilliant friend Stefanie remarked that baby poops smell like roses and that validated my theories) Anyway, Max had poops of roses. Sweet and precious!

Huck came crackling into this world a little sparkler of a person, long and lean where Max was round and chubby. His poops did not smell of roses, oh no. Rather they smelled of hot buttered popcorn. I promise you this is true.

Now, Piper. Precious, sweet a mixture of both of them. Quickly leaving her tiny newborn-ness behind and assuming full blown cherub status. Her sweet little breastfed baby poops smell neither of roses or hot buttered popcorn. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what they smelled like.

Finally I remarked to my partner in crime, Max, that I couldn’t place the smell but that it was familiar. (are you jealous of the conversations I have with my children?) He said with utter certainty “they smell like wine.”

um….what? But here’s the thing; they DO. They smell like a good red wine.

Now lest you go thinking I am sort of lush, I didn’t eat roses with Max and popcorn upsets my stomach. I have had a grand total of 4 wicked apple ciders and one Summer Shandy since Piper has been born. There is no more reason that her poops smell like wine any more than Max’s smelled like roses.

As for how Max remembers the smell of wine? Well, we did let him take a whiff when we were having a glass like ages ago. That kid does have a hell of a memory.

But they do. So sayeth Max. So sayeth us all.

 

Motherhood is crazy.

You’re gonna kill it in Kindergarten, Shorty.

“you can leave”

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Just moments earlier he had screwed his face into his “I am mad/scared face” as I tried to convince him clippers would make this much protested back to school haircut go faster. “no clippers!” he wailed, his eyes tearful, his chin quivering. We acquiesced, me and the slightly grumpy stylist at the local Sports Clips. No clippers. He giggled and squirmed as she sprayed his hair with cool water then sat still as she began to comb and cut. “you can leave” he told me.

I waited in the lobby until he was done, looking ten years old suddenly and I praised him for surviving the dreaded chopping of the locks. After Huck was done we headed out for frozen yogurt.

The night before he started Kindergarten he was too excited to sleep. I had been prepared for extra cuddling, extra reassurances and perhaps one of the early morning panicked wakings. He put the fan right on his face and cocooned up in the blanket on the other side of the bed from me, not his usual as close as I can possibly get to you position and after our good night ritual he told me it was okay if I left to get some water. He hasn’t fallen asleep without me by his side, usually tightly gripping my arm in two years, excepting when I was in the hospital with Piper. But that night he let go.

“You can leave”

I got water. I showered. I crawled back into bed expecting him to roll towards me as he does…like a sleeping homing device draws him to  my side. Nothing. I nursed Piper and finished my book and resisted the urge to grab him and pull him toward me. Perhaps I should have. I know I felt a sense of accomplishment that all our encouragement about school had led to this day and he was excited and only a little scared as opposed to sobbing and terrified. He was okay. I also know I wanted those cuddles. I wasn’t okay.

I took a picture of him before he woke. He looked so small and still and I knew today was a marking point in our lives. My mother always said 5 is the best age because it’s before you send them to school and they get told that all things that make them special actually make them weird. Its the time they are the most themselves. I mourn this. I pray his specialness won’t get stomped on and I pray he won’t stomp on someone else. He is silly and sweet and funny and he celebrates everything and every one and I hope to God that is treasured by others the way we treasure it.

Once he finally woke, Dad brushed his hair and got him ready. Max put on his backpack and paced around the hall. Ready to go. Ready for this adventure. He was focused and I could see him pep-talk himself a time or two, but he was ready. Finally we got in the car and headed out to the schoo. Then he was off. He lined up with the other kids as the paparazzi snapped a million pictures. His teacher had them wave to us and tell us not to cry…

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…and  he left.

 

The dance of motherhood.

I dream at night of being a ballerina.

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I am lithe and long as I glide across the non-existent stage. My arms slender and pale, ethereal. I am so thin and so very strong and there is no shame; everything is exquisite. The arch of my foot tells the story. The the soft folds of my ballet dress float as I turn, pirouetting. I am Suzanne Farrell. I am Gelsey Kirkland. Long dark hair trailing behind me as I spin and jump, so free. It is my ascension to heaven.

I wake drenched in postpartum sweat, feet aching from unconsciously pointing in slumber to nurse the new baby.

My great grandfather was a bit of a scum. He was run out of town and went on to have an entirely different and separate family. My great grandmother, not one to suffer fools, bravely filed for divorce in a time when that simply was not done. She had four children and worked so hard, standing such long hours her uterus prolapsed at work. She was strong, but she was not lithe.

We met this other family once. A meet up of my grandmother and her half-sisters, one thrilled to have more family and one very put out that Daddy’s Girl has a girl before her. Never mind that he walked away and abandoned that very girl. I myself was always desperate for family and wanted to know them. Wanted to be with them. Wanted them to love me.

They didn’t.

They shared stories of my grandmother’s absent father and of his other grandchildren. I had cousins, they said. And they danced. I love to dance! I told them, all of 13 and full of dreams not yet unrealized. I thought we are the same, those cousins and me. Scoffing I was told no they dance. Ballet. With Balanchine and Baryshnikov, who’s poster hung on my wall above my bed. My heart soared. Maybe I could meet them? Maybe I could just glean a touch of that world from them. They had both left NYC Ballet and moved on to be Ballet Mistresses of their own companies by then. We never saw my grandmother’s half sisters again. One meeting was all. I don’t know if they kept in touch, perhaps my mother does.

I saw a ballet once in San Francisco listing my cousin’s name as Mistress. Was she in the building? Were we close? I imagined her perfect, strong.

The baby has violent hiccups and I dance my own dance of bounces, sways, and rhythmic pats until she quiets, giving a shuddering sigh and relaxes her wisp of a body fully into my arms. Gingerly I kiss her cheek, she still smells of heaven. She settles into her bed and I crawl back beneath the covers and try to rest.

I am not thin. I am not strong. I am not even a success anymore. I feel sad for myself that I haven’t accomplished anything of great worth. No real goals achieved. When you are small years seem to take forever to pass and suddenly you blink and your thirties are gone. And here I still am, tied to the ground. Heavy. I miss the theatre. I miss my old friends who smoked on the fire escape at intermission. I miss the stories they told. It’s as if I missing a limb.

But truly I am happy here and now. There is no music more beautiful than my children’s laughter. There is no ballet as intricate as their play, beautiful and painful.

The sun rises, as it always does and things look brighter. My sons and I pour love over their new sister, kissing her head to toe while we wonder what she will like. Princesses they say assuredly. And baseball. I hold her impossibly tiny foot and she points. A good arch. I smile and wonder will she want to dance too? Will she want to act? Whatever she chooses I envision her strong and ascending upwards to her dream.

Perhaps motherhood is it’s own version of Ballet Mistress. My company my brood of babes. Warm ups are Yo Gabba  and the Wiggles. The music the Beatles and Green Day and Sophia The First. The steps are wild and unpredictable. More Twyla Tharp than Balanchine.

Beautiful.

Six.

And just like that, you are six.

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Max,

I’m not going to lie, six was tough on Mommy-err-MOM. I am no longer Mommy, and I am just settling into my new moniker “mom”. I knew mommy would be short lived, as it is meant to be, but you ceremoniously announced, as you do when you’ve been thinking about something for a while that I am now plain old mom. Daddy is now just dad. I admit that stung a little, but that is the bittersweet joy of parenthood. If I do my job right you need me a little less every day until you are ready to fly out of the nest.

I treasure the closeness we share. I remember distinctly one late night back in our apartment in LA when you were maybe a month old and realizing that your legs were now long enough to drape off my lap and rest on the mattress as you nursed. I look at those same legs now as they straddle first base or scramble up the climbing wall, as they perform great feats of rock n roll stage jumps and bounce to the heavens on the trampoline and I think one thing:

You are a marvel.

You still sleep in bed with me, it’s simply easier if you wake up anxiety ridden at night, and I frequently wake to find your arm wrapped around mine, your little (but not as little as it once was) body pressed close to mine. I know eventually you’ll be ready to sleep in your own room, but with Huck and now a new baby I know we both enjoy our time together in the evenings. We have some of our best talks cuddled in bed after a little Phineas and Ferb. I admire how honest you are with me, your friends and especially with yourself. You continue to vocalize your feelings, what you are scared of so we can process that together, and even more gloriously your victories. You had a friend spend the night for your birthday and it was indeed a big deal that you slept on the couch and you celebrated it. I was so proud of you.

You had attempted a sleep over at a friend’s house but decided to come home, and we were proud of you then too. Proud because you took the leap and tried, even though you were scared. Proud because you know yourself well enough to say “I am not ready, I want to go home”

Knowing your comfort zone and your readiness and being able to assert that is a tremendous ability and will serve you well in the coming years. I promise to do all I can to nurture and support you in that.

You are such a character, all of our friends love to see what you’re going to say next. One morning you woke up and announced with a heavy sigh “I haven’t been on a canoe since I was a lad.” (You’ve never been on a canoe in this life!) You performed Kool and The Gang’s Celebration for Miss Jackie’s birthday at the pool and everyone cheered. You are a mix of don’t look at me but let me perform for you! It’s wonderful.

Oh yeah, you know everything. You know EVERYTHING. Don’t bother explaining anything to you because you know it ALL. You test your boundaries, you get in trouble and instantly say sorry, sorry. If you’re really in trouble you fall to your knees clasp your hands like your praying and look up at me with the saddest face and beg forgiveness. It’s so dramatic and adorable and funny, it’s hard to stay mad even  for a second.

This summer your anxiety has eased and we have started building you up for kindergarten. I am so grateful you will be going to school where your grandmother works, just this fact of knowing she is near has helped immensely and we focus on the fun things you will do.

 You are holding steady in your love of the Beatles, Green Day and baseball. But there is nothing you love more than Huck and Piper. Nothing in this world. Right now Huck is having a hard time getting used to the new baby, but you are a pro. You love her and can’t wait to see her and hold her. Your heart is one of the biggest and most generous I have ever known.

Despite being the first born and the star of the show, you are always willing to share the spotlight. After months of asking we finally signed Huck up for soccer. Did you ask if you were doing it too? Nope. You said “Oh good! Huck’s watched me a lot, now I can watch him!”

My God, you are the coolest person I know.

Happy Birthday to the one who changed everything. To the one who used to call it his Happy Day and be scared of the Happy Birthday song. To the one who smiled the biggest smile as we sang it to you this year. I love you to Pluto and back (as you say)

Mommy

You can read my other birthday letters to Max here: Five, Four, Three, Two