best days.

My Ethan. My first baby. The one who made me a mommy.

Lately, I can't get you off of my mind. You start Pre-K in the fall and although it's only part-time (and although you are excited), I am struggling. I can remember the very moment your father and I decided we wanted to have children. I can remember the very moment we learned you were on the way. My pregnancy with you was hard and in so many ways a proper introduction to you, my little one who has always kept me on my toes. I remember the first time I held you and those exhausting, long days when your father went back to work. I remember meandering afternoons in between naps and bottles of just staring at you. Trying to get to know you. And then five years happened. Five years of you and me. Of our routine. Of our daily grind. Of a relationship that was once so new and scary and fresh to one that is my comfort zone. You are home. Your laughter, the way your chin forms a dimple as you throw your head back with giggles, is my happy place. Throughout the bumps in the road, the pain, the heartbreak, the newness of welcoming Carmen into the family -- you have guided me through it all. You are wise beyond your years. You are calm despite the chaos.

You ask me questions I don't know how to answer: questions about the layers of the ozone layer, the make-up of the layers of Earth. You ask me about the evolutionary process and scientific reactions and about war and peace and unity. You say things like "oh, I believe the Play-Doh has already begun to harden, unfortunately," and I wonder if you know that you're only five. "Barely five," I'll tell you to make myself feel better. "Mommy, regardless of what other words you use, I am five." You keep me in check. You keep me in line. Your joys are vast, your anxieties are deep and your ambitions are infinite.

Your mind never stops. In that regard, you remind me of me. I hear you talk and scribble in your journal and I can close my eyes and remember what it feels like to be a teenager. "I think I'm already a teenager, sort of," you'll say. "Or maybe I'm just an in-dult." There are still those words you say wrong ("my brain is thinking too fast and my mouth can't keep up," you rationalize when you catch yourself) and I cling to them because they are the last bits of baby that I can spot on a regular basis.

You are stubborn. You are headstrong. You have no issues expressing when you've been asked to do something that you don't want to do and while it's not exactly a joy wrestling all 56 pounds of you out of Target to the entertainment of the other shoppers in the store, I secretly want you to never lose that trait.

Sometimes you ask me if I'm sad about watching you grow. I try to explain it to you as best as I can, the bittersweet feeling of time passing but pride in who you're becoming and admiration for who you already are. From the first day you came home from the hospital, I whispered "I had the best day with you today" in your ear before bed. I've said it to you every night since, even on the days when we're both shattered and ready for sleep. Five years of best days and I don't know how to properly put into words my gratitude for the life you have given me.

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