I know I talk to you every day, but there’s a bunch of stuff I want to catch up on.
Our birthdays are coming up. You would have been 70. Wow, 70! If I could email you, I’d send you this Larry Miller routine, which I’m sure you already know.
Alan and I got to see him live a few years back and we were rolling when he performed this classic bit about how “You become 21, turn 30, push 40, reach 50 and make it to 60. Then you’ve built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it’s a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday!”
But you didn’t hit 70. You hit about 95% of 70. You hit 67, then 18 days later, the end hit all of us.
Three years later, I’m at 95%. And I think that’s how it always will be. Even on my best days, I’ll never quite be at 100. There’s always going to be a piece missing, that last turn of the dimmer that brings the lights all the way up.
Even when I look at Archie and my heart fills up with more joy than I can imagine, there’s a little gap where the thrill of sharing him with you would go. I have moments where I almost can’t believe Archie is real, because I can’t talk to you about him. It’s like he’s a Photoshop image set to 5% transparency and would only be fully rendered by knowing you, and vice versa.
That’s not to say I don’t love him with 100% of my being. (It’s actually far beyond that.) But the more I love him, the more I miss you. I want to hear you tell me the things he does that remind you of Drew and me when we were kids. I want to talk about how motherhood can be a very lonely feeling some days. I want to laugh and marvel together at the discoveries this tiny human is making each day before our eyes.
Here are a few of the things he’s doing now:
- If he bumps into or knocks over an inanimate object, he apologizes to it. “Sahwee, lamp.” “Sahwee, doohr.” “Sahwee, gahbage.”
- His favorite breakfast is Chex with soy milk and banana. Every morning, I’m tickled by the way he sweetly asks, “More?” then giggles and grins from ear to ear when we do, in fact, bring him more.
- He loves his daycare. When I decided I was going to keep working, I had visions of you talking about how you couldn’t imagine having kids only to have someone else raise them. I felt incredibly guilty that I was going to be one of those moms. But the truth is, it really works for us, Mom. Archie runs into his classroom at full speed every morning, giddy to see his friends, and literally pushes us out the door. At the end of the day, he runs over to greet us with big hugs and is ready to go home–but never seems desperate to leave.
- As we walk out, there’s usually a snack basket on the front desk with pre-packaged apple slices or graham crackers. We grab one and Archie says, “Sit down?” This means he wants to go over to the small patch of grass next to the center and sit to eat his snack. I’ve come to cherish this time each day. We sit together and Archie points out cars passing by, birds chirping in the trees, planes in the sky, and “helicops” buzzing overhead. And I sneak as many kisses as I can.
- Any time we go to the car, Archie says, “Lettuhs!” This means he wants to go read the letters off the back of the car. He starts with “F-O-R-E-S-T-ER” then shouts, “MORE LETTUHS!” and reads the license plate.
- He loves playing in his toy kitchen. When Alan and I bought it over a lunch break at Babies R Us, the checkout clerk said, “Oh, she’s gonna love this!” And we said, “No, it’s for a boy.” BECAUSE WE ARE SUPER WOKE, MOM. Every day after breakfast, he asks, “Play kitchen?” He even puts on the little oven mitts that came with the set before he starts prepping his plastic meals. His specialties are lump of green peas and single giant carrot.
- His bedtime routine is also one of my favorite times. First we say “toothbrush” and he excitedly runs to the sink. He’s proud to have his own stepstool (“mine!”) and climbs up to the faucet. He wants me to brush my teeth at the same time. He usually misses his teeth entirely (the front two get very clean) but he enjoys the effort.
- Then we say “Time for bath!” and he replies “Aphbet.” This refers to his bath letters that float and stick to the sides of the tub. It’s been endearing to see him figure out the M could be turned into a W (and vice versa) and that stacking capital “O” and the zero sideways looks like an 8.
- Right before bed, we read books. Mom, Archie loves books. Lately, he’s insisted on getting into the chair on his own and “reading” the books himself. One of his favorites is “Llama Llama Red Pajama,” and his rendition consists mostly of him shouting “Llama llama!” over and over.
- One night, when we got to the part when Baby Llama gets two kisses from his Mama, Archie looked up at me and blew two kisses to me from across the room. I know this all-sweetness phase may be short-lived, but it’s as much love as I’ve ever experienced in a single moment.
- Every night when I go up to bed, I tiptoe into his room and turn on my phone’s flashlight. I look at him either stretched out in a diagonal across the crib or bunched “butt up” in the corner. I feel grateful that we can provide a home where he feels so completely safe and peaceful, where he knows he’ll wake up to another day filled with love.
And as I walk out, after I’ve smoothed his hair behind his ear, I say to myself (well, to you, actually), “I love him so much, Mom.” It’s my nightly attempt at catching that last 5%. Of feeling like you know him, and know me as his mother. As he gets older, I suspect he’ll feel that 5%, too. He’ll hear my stories and see his friends with their grandmas, and he’ll miss you, even if he never met you.
On the upside, you’ll be happy to know he loves his “Papa” (and of course Papa ADORES him). In January, we went up to visit Dad for his 75th birthday party. I had been coaching Archie that when we saw Papa, we’d say, “Happy birthday, Papa.” I was planning to prompt him when we got there, but one night while we were eating dinner, he turned on his own and said, “Papa… Papa…” He wanted to make sure he had Dad’s attention. “Hoppee birday, Papa.” I’m confident it was the best gift Dad got this year.
We miss you, Mom. Even if we’re not crying every day like we used to, or wondering if I’d ever be able to write one of these without breaking down, or even feeling more inspired to look toward the future than back to the past, we will always miss you. We think about you every day, and we will always love you–100%.