October 27, 2015
To my amazing son Wilder for his 2nd birthday:
It’s hard for me to relate how quickly time seems to pass, now that you are the star of our lives. I don’t think anything has the capacity to speed time quite like parenting. It feels like just yesterday I was gazing upon you in the hospital with a sense of determination, love and fear. Now I am lucky if I can get you to stay still long enough for me to catch a quick glimpse of how much you change with every day that passes. You are a dynamic force of wonder and I continue to learn from you. I never knew that my heart had the capacity to love the way it loves you.
This past year has not been without its struggles. I feel as if I mirrored your growing pains in many ways. As you learned to walk, run, communicate and understand, I also had to re-learn many of these things in my post-pregnancy body. I thought, perhaps foolishly, that by the end of your first year of life, I would be “back to normal.” I now know that “normal” is ambiguous and the introspection that has accompanied your arrival has proven that it will no doubt equal a lifetime of learning for both of us. I feel honored to be not only your teacher but also your student.
You have made so many accomplishments over the past year. You went from speaking about 4 words your first year of life to having a vocabulary that rivals many of the day-drinkers at your Poppa’s bar. At 14 months you would say the phrase “tick-tock” so often that it prompted me to get a tattoo of a clock on my arm. You were a little late to walking, but you caught up quickly. When you were 17 months, your Daddy took you on a trip to New York, and you returned walking like a pro. I guess the saying is true that everybody has to walk in New York. Also around this time you began singing little nonsensical songs, which we all encouraged as much as possible. By the time you hit 18 months old, you knew all of your letters. My mother used to tell me that I had memorized the spelling of simple words by this age, and I never believed her until you came along. It was also at this time that you began clapping for yourself whenever you accomplished a task. I hope that you will always have a strong sense of self-accomplishment. At 19 months you traveled to Texas with your Daddy, Clint and me to visit your Maw Maw and Aunts, and you also took a trip to Florida with your Daddy & Poppa. That month we started working with flashcards of words and shapes and you learned all of them within weeks. Your vocabulary grew tremendously as we introduced you to new words. One of my favorites was “alligator” which at 20 months you would pronounce as “alli-na-na-nah”. By the time you were 22 months old, you arranged blocks to spell the word “dog” which you proudly exclaimed to me. That same month you started school at the Jewish Community Center uptown, where you promptly began referring to all the other kids in your class as “babies.” I will never forget you waving from the car window saying “Bye, bye babies.”
Most of the time you and I share is spent reading, drawing, dancing and playing with toys. You are especially fond of your blocks and small plastic animals. While you will play alone, you prefer interaction. Poppa and I enjoy the way you will come and get me, taking me by the hand to join you in whatever activity you are engaged in. Poppa likes to play outside with you. He has you in the yard with him as much as possible, and loves taking you to the park. He encourages you to get dirty and jump in muddy puddles. He also will take you with him on errands throughout the French Quarter. You have developed a hefty fan base. You have some very sweet friends including: Arthur Douglas, Franui, Ellis, Baby Henry and Baby Lucian. You are still a huge fan of Peppa Pig, but we have also introduced Sesame Street, Little Einstein’s and classic Scooby Doo into your repertoire.
As you grew over the past year, it seems the world did as well. Your Poppa closed the bar he co-owned for 10 years and moved the business to a new location, which was both heartbreaking and exhilarating. The city of New Orleans finally passed a smoking ban for Orleans parish which was met with much controversy, but doesn’t seem to have changed much of the bar business. Your Daddy & Clint purchased the lot next door to their house meaning that you are going to have even more amazing outdoor space to explore. I left my job at Lucky Pierre’s after determining that I wanted more time with you. The biggest and most exciting change of the outside world though was the Supreme Court legalization of gay marriage nationwide. It is my hope that you will never remember a time when people questioned gay marriage. This decision of the court was an enormous victory to people of all sexual orientations and a step toward improving human rights.
This past year has been a rough one for me. My psychical health dipped to an all-time low and because of that I spent a lot of time worrying that I wasn’t able to be the “perfect” parent. While I will always strive to put your needs and desires first and foremost, I have accepted that there are times that I will make mistakes. I have missed my mother, father and brother in ways that I never knew possible. I am saddened that they will never feel the sheer elation of getting to know you. I have felt incredibly alone in ways that I would never wish upon anyone. I have felt profound sadness at this feeling of loneliness, knowing that I have so many people who love me, yet not being able to let that love pierce the darkness of my sadness. I have swallowed my pride and reached out for help and have found an amazing support system. I have learned that it is better to embrace these challenges and allow you to see me struggle and work through those struggles, than to pretend that everything is perfectly fine. I have learned that things may not go exactly as planned but as long as there is love and honest communication, nothing is impossible. I have learned the bittersweet lesson that a family is not something that can be easily made.
I have also felt love and happiness at its zenith. I have never laughed as whole-heartedly as I have laughed with you. One of my favorite memories of this past year is when you began purposefully clasping my hands around your waist when you are seated in my lap. I know this may sound trivial but this minutiae action melts my heart every time. You have inspired me in so many ways. I found the courage to once again change my career because of you. I have made the time to write seven new one-act plays and two short stories. I have made my health a priority and sought out the best doctors to address my adrenal dysfunction. I have learned to be more receptive to help from others. I have recognized and embraced the immense love that I have for your Poppa. I have been brave in talking about my fears, and have learned that I am rarely alone in the way I feel. I have found patience that I never knew I had and I continue to practice being a good listener. At the heart of all of these accomplishments is my love for you.
Thank you, Wilder, for an extraordinary 2nd year of parenting. You continue to make every day a new adventure. I think I speak for your entire family when I say that none of us could have ever imagined the astounding changes you would ignite. I am so thankful to get to share this life with you, and I cannot wait to see what this next year brings.