Yesterday afternoon, the mail carrier placed a small tan box in our mailbox that contained Ethan's birthday party invitations and with the delivery that I've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of came the realization that he is almost two. Of course, I am filled with that strange feeling that mothers always seem to get, the one of disbelief that their once swollen, squirmy newborn who was seemingly just placed into their arms is now a child, really, but this was something more. This was a feeling that prompted reflection on my part, a condensed slideshow of the past however-many years of my life swirling around my head, too blurry to see, too quick to comprehend, but in the end unfolding into the sight of Ethan climbing to the top of the rock wall himself and beaming with pride in his mismatched, half-pajama get-up.
He is the end result in a story that is not yet completed, the told-you-so that I wished to tell myself when I lulled my teenage self to sleep with tears and loneliness. He is the simple chords that my husband would pluck on his bass guitar as a teenage boy with silly shoes, he is the first poem I ever penned in my journal alone at night before another living being ever had the chance to tear my words apart and use them against me. He is the peace and glue from the first pieces of broken heart I never thought I'd live through as a high school freshman, he is the Master's degree that my husband proudly hangs on our filthy, cluttered home office wall. He is the imperfections that I embrace in my perfect life, the messy floors and the cluttered countertops and the sound of a cat purring in an otherwise quiet home during naptime. He is the fault lines and the green grass and the nighttime sky that holds the moon. He is the sound of the wind on a dull, lifeless March day and he is the uproarious laughter even though it's nearly bedtime. He is the long haul up to college with my clothing packed in plastic grocery store shopping bags, the tears of homesickness I cried, the closing of windows and the new opportunities I tripped upon on my journey to recollect my dreams. He is the tattoo on my wrist, he is the 6:00 a.m. alarm that my husband sets each morning and lets go off for way too long. He is the morning cup of coffee, the afternoon one as well, the phone call to my mother even though I'm still terrified of her reaction to the decisions I make as an adult myself. He is the nature magazines that my father read to me when I was a little girl, he is the straight A's and perfect attendance records from my husband's childhood report cards. He is the wish I made at 11:11 as Alkaline Trio sang about pain and despair in the background of my magenta teenage bedroom, the one with purple carpets and filled with whispers of my biggest secrets. He is my biggest secret, the one lining my insides with hope and making me push, push, push myself through the nonsense and the good-but-not-great times because he was never not there. He is the awkward first kiss between my husband and I on my parent's driveway at fifteen years old, the tiptoped, leaned-over mess of love and it's different this time and knowing we would spend a lifetime defending that we spent the supposed greatest years of our life learning to completely entwine two lives and beings together.
Ethan is everything and always has been even before we knew it, even when my husband and I were fifteen years old and falling in love with the recklessness only teenagers can fall in love with. He was what we were always in motion towards, even when we didn't know it. Even though somehow, somewhere, I feel like we always knew it. He is the intoxicating smell of citrus oils and calendula fresh on his skin at bedtime, the way his eyes are closing while he still begs for more Hanson videos, more Curious George books. He is the joy in the moment and the hope in tomorrow and the reason I can swear tomorrow might be sunnier, just maybe, than today.
It's hard to imagine there was a point when his laughter wasn't at the forefront of my mind and simultaneously hard to believe that we are making preparations to celebrate him turning two. He has always been the blood that courses through my veins, the propellant towards each action and outcome. Even if I never knew it, even if I couldn't imagined that life could be this sweet.