Dear Neil: I’ve wanted to write a letter to you for quite some time now. I know you can’t read it just yet, seeing that we’re still working on spelling ‘cat’ and ‘hat’, but someday you will. Someday when I might not have sharp memories of your first five years with me, not the way I do right now. Maybe this letter is more for me than for you. Maybe it’s a way for me to cling on to some of my precious memories of your babyhood as I watch you turn five and beyond.
This has been a big year for you. With the addition of a little sister in your life, with you turning five, and with you soon starting ‘big boy’ school. I’m watching you take it all in your stride in a more mature way than I ever thought possible. You have the makings of an amazingly caring ‘big brother’ – all the doubts and fears that I had about having another baby have completely disappeared as I witness a beautiful bond forming between you and your sister. Nothing is more amusing to me than watching you try to teach her something that you just learnt yourself.
As much as I’m enjoying your endless questions, your boundless energy, your sweet innocence, your wonder at discovering something new about the world each day, I’m also seeing a little part of your babyhood being left behind each day. It makes me happy and a little bit sad. Happy that I’m around you to enjoy every detail of this precious time, and sad because I want to battle everything that threatens to tarnish your innocence. It amazes me how sarcasm is completely lost on you. Because you choose to trust. Because you’d rather believe. Because you bear no grudges. It makes me wonder why we lose this part of ourselves, as we grow older. The world would be a much better place if we could all hold on to the little trusting child that once lived in us.
Neil: Now that you’re all ‘growed up’ and ready to take on a new adventure in your life, Kindergarten, I can only hope that life will give you a few more years to explore freely and fearlessly. I hope that your beautiful spirit will not be crushed by the harsh ‘realities’ of this world, for just a little while longer. I pray that your unique personality continues to shine throughout your life. How I wish I could somehow keep you in your safe bubble for a few more years – a bubble in which Santa is real and birthdays are magical and Mommy and Daddy can somehow fix everything.
For now, I’m going to count my blessings each day (even as I shamefully complain about not having enough ‘me’ time) that I get to spend most of this amazing time with you. While I worry about the years slipping away too fast, I’m going to fully enjoy our morning snuggles. Our special time together. The time when we hide under the covers and pretend a monster is trying to get us. Or the time when the same covers become a tent and we’re pretending to camp out. Being there for you, and with you everyday, is the best decision I ever made. I truly thank whatever stars were involved in helping me make that decision.
I’m rediscovering the world with your curious 5-year-old eyes and mind, and I have to say, it is more interesting than my adult version. After all, it IS much more fun to bake flying saucers than plain ol’ cookies, right?!
I had actually written this letter to my son Neil when he was 5. But as I was making this print for his room yesterday, I thought why not try to do a series of letters to the kids. Try to pen down those beautiful ‘mom thoughts’ that flit in and out of my mind every day. My sweet Neil is a complete Mama’s boy and I hope that lasts for a while. Our day starts with hugs and kisses and snuggles and ends the same way. We both say snuggling is our favorite time of the day :) They say every woman should have a daughter or a sister. But I say every woman must have a son. It gives you a wonderful glimpse into uncomplicated, non-dramatic, inquisitive little minds :) So meet Neil, currently 6 years old, turning 7 in May. And yes, I already know what the theme for his 7th birthday party will be :) Did you have a look at his 6th? We had a BLAST! See here and here… I took these pictures on our cruise to the Bahamas a couple years ago. This one captures him so perfectly. Handsome, naughty and charming. All rolled into one sweet-as-a-cakepop, forever-melting-Mommy’s-heart package. I know, I’m his biggest fan. He could totally be a model for Ralph Lauren. I’m just saying. See what I mean about his charming naughtiness? He gets away with too much thanks to that sparkle in his eyes. Now on to the letter. I really need to write him another one now that he’s a bit older. And I really hope that when he reads this as he is older, he will understand and realize that raising him, my focus was always for his heart to be in the right place. It didn’t matter if he didn’t get the best grades, or wasn’t the best soccer player, or didn’t have an after-school activity every single day. What mattered was that he learned to be a good person and tried to help those around him when they needed it. And I’m proud to say that’s exactly the kind of boy he’s turning into.