My tiny, speedy little peanut is three. THREE. We are officially and totally out of the baby years. We got rid of your crib last week, and you potty trained yourself last month. Board books are being replaced by beautiful picture books with long stories and intricate characters.
But you and I share a special ritual, one that I hope will never change. When I drop you off somewhere, when you get hurt, or when we say goodnight, you always insist on a “kiss, a hug, and a high five”. You came up with this yourself, and you are the enforcer every single time. It’s your little way of checking in, making contact, and reassuring yourself that you are okay to go off and do whatever it is you’re going to face.
While I certainly know that 15 year old Baxter, or 32 year old Baxter is not going to insist on a kiss, a hug, and a high five, I hope this foundational bond always remains strong between us. Three-year-old Baxter needs to ‘fuel up’ on your mom’s love and affection before going to do something solo: before being dropped off at a new preschool, or staying overnight at Nanny and Grampy’s, or going to sleep in a big boy bed. It buoys your confidence, and it cements the knowledge that we will see each other again soon. With your kiss, hug, and high five, you can conquer anything.
When you do become 15, or 24, or 32, I know that a kiss, hug, and high five won’t be enough to solve your relationship dramas, your work frustrations, your existential crises, or your maturational dilemmas. But remember what had prepared you for these momentous events and difficult conundrums: your mother’s love and never-ending belief that YOU CAN DO IT, and that you ARE okay. As a little boy, you could conquer anything knowing that I was right behind you–figuratively, or literally. This will never change. No matter how old you are, no matter what your situation is, your mother is right behind you. Likely cheering for you, and probably marveling at your bravery.
You see, you don’t NEED this check in with your mom. You just think you do. [And to me, that is everything. Somebody once told me that the greatest gift you can give a parent is to make them feel needed. You do that quite well.]
You are quite an affectionate little rough-and-tumble man. You clamor for my lap anytime you get hurt or scared. You love to “have snuggles”, and you regularly tell us “love you moon and back, momma”. You love to have your hair stroked and your back rubbed, and every time you suffer an injustice you want to read a book to make yourself feel better. One year old Baxter didn’t seem like he was going to grow into a cuddle bug, but you are. And I love it! I never knew I could put off so many chores when you ask me to “sit longer” or “talk about the day”.
My hope as you grow up? That you will always know how, and be brave enough, to ask for help when you need it. That you will not stifle your fears, or ignore your concerns because you think they are silly or baseless. That you will not struggle within your own head because you’re afraid to let someone else in. Instead? Ask! Discuss! Strategize! Worry together! Then take a leap knowing that someone will be there on the other side to meet you: to celebrate, or commiserate. Someday your partner or spouse may fill that role. But never forget that your momma can do it too. I’ll always be there with a kiss, a hug, and a high five: to fuel you up, and send you off. Because I know you can do it. You just have to know yourself that you can do it too.
Kisses, hugs, and high fives to the moon and back,