Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What Nolan Has Taught Me

On Saturday my first baby will turn five.  In the past five years, we've been through a lot, from his surgeries to the birth of his preemie brother to the challenges of having "two under two" - or as we here in the K house like to call them, "The Dark Years".

My baby

Nolan is a spunky, smart, crazy, sensitive, amazing little boy who reminds me of myself on a daily basis.  But as much as he is like me, or maybe because he is like me, he has taught me a lot.  About life, and about myself.  About the little things and the big things.  About who I am and who I want to be.  In honour of my little boy's five years on this planet, and in looking forward to the next 5 and more - I want to take a minute to acknowledge the Things I've Learned From Nolan.

1. Sleep is Not Overrated.  It's not.  God, it's really, really not.  Oh Nolan, my terrible sleeper, my up at all hours, tiny bladder just like mommy boy...I have learned from you that sleep is something I love, need, and miss.  It's also something I would give up only for you.  And maybe your brother, but he doesn't test that theory much.

2.  A Smile Can Break Your Heart - and Repair it.  I will never forget the day I found out about Nolan's cleft.  I was devastated.  I mean completely destroyed.  I cried for four days and ate my weight in cake and ice cream.  I told my parents I wouldn't take any baby pictures of him lest people think he was ugly or make fun of him.  All I could think about was the day his smile would be repaired and people would stop staring.  When he was born, I found out that he was perfect.  I couldn't possible have cared less about the cleft.  And on the night before his surgery, I lay awake pondering how to call it off and somehow live with the cleft.

And then he came out of surgery.  And I cried because I didn't recognize my own baby.  His face was so different.  I had lost the smile I loved.  And time went by, and his unique new smile filled my heart again.  Today I can hardly remember how he looked before, but I know that his smile has broken and mended my heart many times over, and it is the most precious part of him.

Right before surgery

3.  You Can't Have Too Many Hugs.  But you can sure as hell try.

4.  Some Baby Terms Should Be Kept.  We'll never stop calling restaurants "The Hungry Store".  It's just too brilliant.

Turning One!

5.  There Is Now Someone More Stubborn Than Me.  Yes, Nolan, you are the most stubborn person I have ever met.  Able to amaze other parents with your sheer stamina when it comes to a tantrum or attempting to get your way.  More stubborn even than the reigning champ of stubbornness - your mother.  I hope you'll outgrow it, at least a bit.  But you probably won't, so really, I hope you learn to use it for good instead of evil.

6.  I Am Loved.  Because you tell me so, a dozen times a day, most often when you are sitting on the toilet, I can never forget that some little someone loves me very much.  And that's a pretty good way to go through life.  I could lose the toilet part though.

7.  The World Is Amazing, and Police Cars Are Pretty Damn Cool.  Every parent says it - that seeing the world through a child's eyes give you a whole new view of things.  It's true.  And as Nolan's mom I have learned much about the inherent coolness of police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances.  I have learned that bubble bath is the single greatest invention of all time.  I have seen everything again from knee-height, and the world is crazy, amazing place in your eyes Nolan.  And best of all, I am an amazing person in your eyes.  Thanks to you, I can see myself that way.

8.  Every Challenge Can Be Overcome.  You, the poster child for cleft repair, came into the world with a facial defect that could have ruled your life.  But you speak as clearly as any other five year old and although the signs are there - you simply don't care.  You never thought there was anything to overcome, and so you simply did it.  And though I still worry about your future, as every mom does, I know that you will overcome each challenge you encounter.  And you have taught me that I can overcome my challenges too.  That no matter what waits on the other side, win or lose, we are who we were always meant to be.  Challenges get us there - and even if things don't come out the way you wanted them to, you have still overcome simply by stepping forward and just doing it.

9.  It's Ok To Laugh At Farts.  Yup.  They're funny.  And having little boys gives me license to giggle.

10.  Life is Short.  Too short.  Already my boy is five, and his brother growing up fast behind him.  The years will pass me by and leave me looking back as I am now.  And one day, you won't be here anymore - you will be off living your life and I will be sitting here ruminating on the boy you are now and how you became a man.  Life is too short to worry about making the bed or having a perfectly clean house.  Life is too short to skip a trip to the ice cream hungry store.  Life is too short to get out of bed on a rainy day when you can snuggle with the ones you love.  Life is too short not to laugh at silly jokes and make silly faces.  Life is short, and for the short time that I am here, I get to be with you, Nolan.  I get to be your mom for this short time on the planet.  That's a good thing to be.

Happy 5th Birthday Nolan.  Thank you.