Jacob: 18 Months

Dear Jacob,

Today was an ordinary, un-monumentous day so we did the logical thing and baked a cake. Somewhere along the lines your mom got it into her head that life is there to be celebrated and so it seems only right that we eat cake on half-birthdays. Your dad fittingly dubbed it your anti-birthday, since it’s the farthest day away from your birthday in either direction. We didn’t do anything special and there were no presents. After all, it’s not your birthday or anything. But we did eat cake and it wasn’t just any cake. It was a half-birthday-cake for a half-birthday, and it was a truck cake. You devoured a piece, helped Daddy finish his piece, and then sweetly drove your trucks through the remaining frosting, licking them now and then.

Speaking of trucks, that’s about all we’ve been speaking of lately, with the exception of lights, flags, and “Dada” which goes on the official record as your first word, proudly pronounced twenty times on September 28 when you got up from your nap. After that you got bashful for a few days and would bury your chin in your neck and look coy instead of obliging us. Now it’s as ordinary as half-birthdays and you say it all the time. But I was talking about trucks.

There was the misty grey morning two weeks ago when we went for a walk with Auntie Grace and came upon a mini-sized backhoe, a “Big Digger” we call it, parked by an abandoned sidewalk project. You happily disembarked from the stroller and picked up the big push-broom propped on the machine and got busy.

There was that same Friday when you said Dada, too. That was a pretty huge day for you because the water main broke out by the street. For the full-size people that meant no toilets flushing and all our drinking water had to be boiled through Saturday. For you that meant there were half a dozen trucks making a scene in front of our house and we must have gone to visit them half a dozen times. When they finally got it mended they tested it using the fire hydrant in our yard and you practically went for a swim. Nevermind you were in your last clean pants and the laundry couldn’t be done without clean water.

That was probably your happiest, best day of the month. In the evening we met Nana and Papa at a park with their two big dogs, Lily and Socks, and we walked a trail for half an hour, stopped at the swings, and then went to dinner at a steakhouse as the sun was setting and your bed time was quickly becoming a thing of the past. It was a delightful day of playing with family and I could’ve busted for the joy of getting to spend it with you, watching your wonder at it all.

Then there was the night two weeks ago when Daddy asked if there was any dessert as we ate a quick dinner before his evening class. So we decided to surprise him with cookies when he got home and you helped me make them and watched the big mixer stir everything together and then I let you taste cookie dough for the first time. You carried the rubber spatula around with you for the next hour and one quiet moment I found you with your cup of water, sitting on the doorstep, contemplative, like a big grown-up enjoying the evening peace. I just about died, you were so cute.

There was one more moment this month that topped it all, and that was a week ago today. The past month hasn’t been easy for me and I’ve felt sad and scared for no reason a lot. It’s something called depression and lots of mommies get sick with it when new babies are born. The best medicine for me has been you and your sister and your daddy, and sometimes especially you. You are so simple and so full of wonder. Nothing can make me feel better quite like playing with you and watching you play.

Last Wednesday after lunch I had some ironing to do and you were fussing. I realized I hadn’t paid nearly enough attention to you all morning so I put the ironing board away and grabbed your soccer ball and we ventured out in a little clear patch on a very rainy day. We walked up the dead end street by our house and you couldn’t contain your glee at the flag in the neighbor’s yard and the big UPS truck. I taught you how to push your ball with a stick we found, you gave me a few rock treasures and a big dry leaf, and I caught myself mid-remonstrance and let you jump in a big deep mud puddle. It was good for my soul, and I could tell it was good for yours, too. We ran together and stopped a million times to look at that flag. On our way home you held my hand and we found the perfect tiny leaf, a blaze of red and yellow, and just at that moment the rain started and by the time we got to the house we were drenched. That little adventure with you is way up high on my list of life’s perfect moments.

You are growing up into a true little boy with hardly a trace of baby. You just know things, and it’s amazing. When you are excited you run so fast with your arms out behind and your head thrust forward and you look like a happy little penguin. In the morning when I greet you, there you are in your crib singing sweetly or jumping furiously, always with your sheet and mattress pad on the floor but your penguin and lamb carefully retained at your side. I get you dressed and you can practically dress yourself and then you know it’s time to hold my hands and say the Lord’s Prayer and you know when we get to the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory that it’s almost time to be done. When we read the Bible at night you love to finish and carry the books with all your might to the shelf where they belong, and then you start running around like you know its your last chance for the day. Then we take you to your room and snuggle you like a tiny baby and sing and you grab your lamb by the ear just because that’s the way you always do it and then you squirm away because you know I’m about to tickle you under your chin. These are the little things, the liturgy of every day, you might say, that make ordinary life seem so delightful.

Thanks for celebrating the ordinary with me, sweet buddy. I’m so glad I get to be there for all your adventures right now and I promise there will be lots more trails to hike and trucks to discover, doggies licking you and ice cream cones and climbing into the driver’s seat of the car. The beauty of life is that all these little moments are gifts from our extravagant Heavenly Father, and he doesn’t spare any expense. So if you’re getting the impression that life is one big party, that’s OK. It is.

Love,
Mommy

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