My sweet baby boy,
Last year, I explained why today is important as I gave you your morning bottle. You grunted and blinked and looked at me so intently as I tried to think of ways to explain why this day is so important to us. I know you were too young (and are, still) to grasp why this day makes Mommies and Daddies cry. You were too young to understand fear or hate or even love or goodwill or kindness. You had needs, and they were being met at that moment. Hungry: bottle.
But I was practicing, you see. There will come a day when we have to explain this day to you. You will hear about it in school. You will see images before I'm ready for you to see them. You will ask me why the flag is lower. So, I practiced. I practiced my kid-friendly speech. I like to think it was a good speech.
This year, today sneaked right up on me. Having you in our lives makes the days run together in a beautiful, exhausted and chaotic mess of songs and naps and messes and storybooks and babywearing. I would have forgotten that mine and Daddy's wedding anniversary was last weekend if I hadn't gotten a reminder on my calendar at work.
For a moment, I thought about telling you again. You don't sit still very often anymore, so I thought about telling you as we drove to school. Two things stopped me.
For one thing, you were happily babbling to yourself in the backseat. Still a little sleepy. Watching the cars go by, catching glimpses of yourself in the mirror and sticking your tongue out at your reflection. Blowing raspberries and randomly calling out "DA!" I didn't want to harsh your mellow with grave reflections of a day you don't yet understand.
Secondly (and this one is hard for Mommy), I saw your first glimpse into fear last night. It took us off guard. You were just watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse before bed, like you always do, when suddenly you cried out, turned away from the TV and threw yourself to the ground, burying your face in your hands. A cartoon bee had suddenly flown on to the screen, and it surprised you. It scared you. You crawled over to me and into my lap. I felt your tiny hands gripping my arms, and I saw your bottom lip pucker out in a heartbreaking little pout until the little Disney bees went away. Then, as if nothing had happened, you clamored out of my lap again and went back to your Spot, where you love to watch Mickey and his friends at the Clubhouse.
Fear. Something that frightened you suddenly in the middle of a show you love and have come to depend upon as part of your daily routine. You weren't expecting it and, for a moment, you were hesitant to trust it again.
It was a tiny moment, and you probably don't even remember it today. But I do. I remember a piece of my heart breaking off because I realized that you will experience that over and over again in your life. You'll lose tiny bits of innocence and uncover the truth that the world isn't always sweet and fun. Logically, I knew this was going to happen. However, my heart was surprised and caught off guard.
As you grow and change and learn and develop into the boy and the man you will be, I can't promise I'll always be able to protect you and hold you until you trust that everything is okay. (I mean, I want to, and your Daddy and I will do the best we can, of course, to prepare you for the things of this world that sting.) But for now, for today, I can. I get to make that decision.
So today, I didn't practice my speech again. Today,I smiled and tried again (unsuccessfully) to get you to say "Ma Ma" instead of "Da Da." Today, I blew raspberries back at you. Today, I sang "Shake it Off" to you when it came on the radio because it makes you laugh and dance in your carseat.
Today, we made funny faces.
Because today, for you, is a new day; another day to be joyful and innocent and full of laughter and smiles.
Today, maybe we will take your lead. Images may scare us, but we'll cry, be comforted, and then go back on with our routines.