My sweet still baby would be fours year old. He’d be more than a month into pre-K by now and getting excited for his birthday and Halloween shortly after. I’d be bustling around to get all three kids ready for Halloween, decorate, stock up on candy and also plan my son’s fourth birthday party. I imagine he’d be more of a boy and not so much “toddler” anymore. I’d marvel at how fast the time goes and swoon over the memories of him as an infant. What was his first word? When did he take his first steps?
I do not feel like the mother of a four-year-old. And I certainly don’t feel like the mother of a boy. Our girls are not girly by any means, but they aren’t the energy balls so often prone to destruction that little boys tend to be.
E came home from the grocery store the night before A’s birthday with a pack of beer and two packages of Oreos. Let the emotional self-medicating commence. (I’m shoving fistfuls of Oreos in my mouth as I type this. It doesn’t make me feel any better but it’s kind of a distraction.)
I watch Dragon play with the four-year-old neighbor boy – born 5 months before A – and instantly my mind fantasizes about her interacting with her big brother. She watches the neighbor boy enthralled with his super squirt gun but she has learned not to grab or even ask for his things because he is not a good sharer. She waits until he drops the squirter to get another toy and then swoops in behind his back and starts fiddling with it. She’s trying to figure out how it works, but doesn’t want to ask because that would draw attention to the fact that she now possesses the coveted toy. She emulates whatever he does. You can see the adoration in her eyes as she watches the neighbor boy. On days when it’s just us at home, she’ll pick out a shirt to wear and tell me that the neighbor boy “likes this one.” Why is she seeking his approval? Must be that he’s older and she looks up to him. I can only imagine what kind of big brother A would be. I’d give anything to watch the three of our children play/argue/fight together like normal siblings.
“What do you want to do for his birthday?” I ask E. He thinks briefly and says, “Something he’d want to do.” I suggest the zoo, museum, bounce house or indoor trampoline park. “All of them?” he responds. My brokenhearted husband, I know it hurts even when, most of the year, you don’t let on.
So this morning we set out to have a special day for Big Brother’s birthday, doing things he’d like to do as a four-year-old. We went to the trampoline place and then out to a restaurant for lunch. A nice elderly couple complimented us on how cute Sheep is at 3-months old and joked with E that two daughters is really like having three wives. No mention of our absent son.
I wish had more time to spend with my son and with my grief this fourth year, but a 2 ½ year-old and a 3-month-old don’t allow for much alone time. In fact, I’ve hardly cried so far this month. I think it’s mainly because if I have a moment of time to myself, I try to lay down (not a whole lot of sleeping going on. Eh hem, I’m looking at you Baby Sheep.). Finally in the shower this week I began sobbing. Now I just need like 15 more showers this weekend to get all the emotions out.
Four years old and I wonder who he’d be. Four years old and I miss him like crazy.