Thursday, January 8, 2015
You were born in May, with 7 pounds, 12 ounces and 21.25 inches to your name, which we had yet to choose. You were born wearing the wrinkled face of an old man, dimpled at the cheeks, with a tempest of dark hair swirling at your temples. You had sideburns. Had you been sporting a patch of throat-beard hair and a #12 jersey, you might have passed for the love child of Andrew Luck. (You're not. We're sorry.) One of the recovery nurses suggested we name you Gus. We did not. (You're welcome.)
For twenty-four hours we stared at your face (smitten) and refused to fill out any legal paperwork, because you didn't look like any of the names on our list. Finally, we chose Ethan. We said you'd grow into it (because we believe in giving newborns jobs). In the meantime, you spent your first days mewing like a cat rather than crying, and I found myself comforting you, whispering, "It's alright, Jags," (short for Jaguar.) (Yes, I nicknamed the nickname. It happens around here. Children also tend to get tagged with nicknames twice the size of their actual names around here. Just ask your brother, Jackaroo Roo Roo Ka Choo.) Jags fit your soft wrinkly skin, the zigs and zags of your wild hair, and those deep brown eyes, saturated with secrets. We wondered if your eyes would change. They did, as did you.
Today, your eyes are blue and your still-wild hair resembles the blond fly-away faux-hawk your father sported in his toddler years, when his family called him Woodstock. You no longer clutch a fistful in your palm, screaming because you can't figure out what's causing the pain, as you refuse to let go (you did this at least once a day as an infant). Today, you like to clutch my neck, instead, trying to pull yourself as close to me (or far away from others) as possible.
I can't imagine the shock of discovering you're a fourth-born. I like to tell myself that surely all the yelling you heard in utero, or the constant interruptions and prodding from doctors in the recovery wing prepared you for what awaited you at home. But really, what can prepare a baby for the kind of three-fold sibling love that requires daily reminders that they not ride the back of the baby walker like a scooter while you're in it?
I'm sorry if you were hoping for less: this family and its members come as a packaged deal. I'm sorry if you were hoping for more: these arms, this lap, this love, gets passed around to everyone in turn (and occasionally, all at once). Some days, I envision you in nineteen years, hanging out in your college dorm room and telling your roommates in your best stand-up voice, "One day, I asked my mother about the day I was born, and she said, 'Baby, you were born. Just like everyone else.'"
And, it's true. You were born, just like everyone else. But, you were born to me, and I will love you - every jagged little part - until long after I cease to be.
I've never won an award for organization, or preparedness, or stellar packing. I am the girl who decides to head out for one more beach run on her last day of vacation and stumbles, camera-less, upon the sunset of a lifetime.
Ethan, there will never be enough photos of your childhood, enough keepsakes, enough love letters. Most days, my hands will seem too full and the hours too short. But everyday, I will call you a blessing and happily call you mine. Thank you for being my sunset.
P.s. Your dad thinks this letter makes it sound like you were an accident. You were not. Not that we're ones to find fault with happy accidents. After all, Daddy and I are just a couple of happy accidents living a life full of intention.