My son is 2 today. I simultaneously feel that he has been a part of my life forever and yet I am still overwhelmed every time I realize that the little boy calling me mommy is looking squarely at me.
He looks to me for everything—from the moment he wakes up and wants to start the day he calls my name. “Mommy, come. Mommy, come.” He extends his hand towards me in the Chinese way of calling someone over (fingers down, top of hand facing up). He wants me to sit with him when he has his milk, he wants me to watch excitedly as he plays with his 35 Thomas the Train engines and his matchbox cars. He wants my full, undivided attention always. I find myself thinking back on all the early mornings we shared before he could walk. (He never crawled. He just sat until he could run.) For some reason, I thought it was so hard back then to plop him down in front of a toy and go start the coffee machine. Why did I ever think that? With a two-year old, I must begin each day with a bargaining session the moment he wakes up. “Ok Bear, just wait one minute while mommy makes her coffee…just wait one minute while mommy gets your breakfast ready.” And on it goes, almost endlessly, throughout the day.
On Monday, I found myself desperately wishing for the morning to speed up so I could take him to school and have some time to collect my thoughts after a busy and exhausting weekend. I literally felt a weight lifted when I left his school; finally, I could have some time to go to the office and “work” for a few hours knowing he was having a blast at school and then with his ayi. The to-do list felt so long when I arrived at work, and my anxiety was at an all-time high for some reason. I felt compelled to hurriedly work through my list of tasks so that I could feel accomplished and prove that I had purpose outside motherhood. But what did any of that really matter?
I’m a sucker for dates—I feel a significance when an anniversary, holiday, or birthday comes around. I like to reflect; it helps me remember, memorialize, and give weight to milestones in my life. And when I think back to his second birthday years from now, I hope I will remember the big party we had for him in China, the friends that came to celebrate, and the presents we opened from family while they watched on FaceTime. I’m not sure if I will remember the feeling I had of sometimes needing just a little bit of space of my own in the endless sea of “mommy, mommy, mommy” that the age of two is filled with. I try hard to appreciate his sweet toddler voice that will soon enough not trip over words or call to me endlessly throughout the day. I don’t want him to stop seeking me out, but sometimes in the moment it is hard to appreciate that this time is brief because I just need him to stop clutching my leg long enough to get the dishes in the dishwasher.
It’s hard to keep the big picture in mind when you’re mired in thoughts of potty training, proper eating habits, and good manners. But I know soon enough we’ll be on to the next big life milestones and I will wonder what ever possessed me to worry when he was so young?
My son turns two today. And in many ways, so do I.