Hello from the Oregon coast, which we travelled to in only five hundred and eleventry-three HOJILLION hours last Thursday. Okay fine, it was more like eight, but eight, jesus, eight hours in a car with a baby and a 3-year-old, it was like some really tedious Twilight Zone episode where the road unfolds endlessly and everyone in the car ages and grows beards and when they finally get to their destination the seats are filled with dusty skeletons, some still gripping the calcified remains of a sippy cup. At one point JB turned to me, his face all haggard and his knuckles whitened around the steering wheel, and said “This drive is really too long,” and I was all BREAKER BREAKER WE’VE GOT A BIG OLD NO-SHITTER FROM THE DRIVER’S SEAT OVER then I brained him with an empty Red Bull can and made him trade me spots so he could experience the joy of sitting in the back with the bored, feral children for a while (hint: you’ll need aspirin!).

The weather has been kind of not-so-summery and I’m not sure I’d describe what we’re doing as a vacation, except we’re taking time off from work so . . . huh. Well, that’s bullshit, I just realized the whole definition of vacation once you have kids boils down to not getting paid. Damn, that’s depressing. Surely vacations get more vacation-y when you’ve progressed past the infant/toddler stage? Yes? Eventually there will be bronze-skinned waiters bearing fruity beverages and cashmere spa robes, and hours of relaxing leisure time?

(Don’t answer that.)

We’re heading to the cabin on the Umpqua River tomorrow to celebrate Riley’s 3rd birthday, which will be a low-key family affair featuring what will surely turn out to be a hoopty-ass cake (I am considering the use of M&Ms as decoration, obviously my talents would fit in nicely here) and — HORRORS — non-decorative paper plates without licensed cartoon characters. I know, I am the Worst Mom Ever. I may as well also confess that although the cake came from a box which called for exactly three ingredients in addition to the supplied mix, I stood there for several minutes this afternoon mouthbreathing down at the bowl of mysteriously cement-textured batter before realizing that duh, I forgot the water.

I hope you’re having a good weekend, whatever you’re doing!

(Same intro as the last time I wrote a six-month letter to a child of mine: nanobots, jetpacks, brief change of narrative, etc.)


Dear Dylan,

I was recently looking at a journal entry I wrote in 2006 when your brother was six months old, and I had to smile at the similarities. Your staccato chortling laugh, the fact that you can roll around like a potato bug but aren’t quite sitting on your own yet, your sudden ravenous appetite and subsequent full-bodied embracement of solid baby foods, your penchant for howling in anger right before your naptimes — these are all things I noted about your brother when he was the same age you are now.

There are familiar moments and yet this experience of taking care of you, my baby boy, is so different than it was the first time around. Sometimes I feel a little wistful that you aren’t the only child in our house, that you don’t get 100% of our attention, that your parents aren’t quite so steeped in a marveling, slightly terrified sense of being in unrecognizable territory.

I don’t think you mind these things, though. I don’t think you mind one bit that your brother is a constant in your life, a presence who brings noise and chaos and laughter to the entire household. (Dylan, your face lights up like the sun when you see Riley, and I cannot tell you the joy that brings to my heart.) I don’t think you mind that your parents feel more experienced, are a little less panicked and unsure and a little more laid-back about taking care of you. You are awfully accommodating, Dylan, just a deliciously agreeable good-humored baby for the most part. Well, except for the napping thing.

I sing this goofy song to you that goes “Who’s that tiiiiny little sucto, who’s that tiiiiny little sucto, who’s that tiiiiny little sucto, who’s that tiny little suuuucto?” Sucto is short for suctopus, which is how we sometimes refer to you (a grabby-tentacle’d baby who furiously glugs down milk by the seeming gallon-loads), although your official nicknames are The Tinytopus, Tiny D, and D-Back, ANYWAY. When I sing this to you your face gets all beamy and your mouth opens wide and your little legs bicycle around joyously, and if I ever wondered whether you truly recognize this little song you made it crystal clear last weekend when I was putting you in your carseat and started humming the Tiny Little Sucto tune and you whipped your head to me around instantly and smiled bright as anything, a full-bodied grin that practically dropped me to my knees, it was so wonderful.

A few days ago you were rolling around on the carpeted family room floor and ended up bonking your head into the entertainment center, hard enough that you were nearly hysterical when your dad ran in and swooped you up. You were squealing into his shoulder like a devastated little piglet, and I practically elbowed your dad in the gut in my rush to take you in my own arms. As soon you raised your tear-stained face and saw me, you reached a hand out to me, and I folded you into my body and you burrowed into my chest and sobbed for a bit, until you felt better. I could do that for you, I could give you comfort, and it was indescribable, that feeling.

Please note I am not saying I enjoyed your painful head-bonk, and I hope we can all avoid such accidents in the future. (But oh, your little body clinging to mine. The way you seemed to soak up something you needed from me.)

You like to make a lot of loud sounds a lot of the time, and sometimes they sound like “GA GA GA GA” and sometimes “AYAH!” and maybe my favorite, a buzzing “BMMMMM” noise you make with your lips pressed firmly together and your cheeks all squirrely and sly-looking. You are insanely curious about everything and we have to be careful to constantly move things out of your reach because your hands have the grip of a pipe wrench. You don’t sleep all the way through the night but I often find that I enjoy those wee-hour moments when the house is silent and you are nestled with me in the rocking chair drinking a bottle while your right hand holds my right thumb and your left hand pats wonderingly up and down my left arm. You like to raise your eyebrows while you’re smiling, and it is simply a pro move, my son, a devastatingly flirty expression that I am sure you will hone and perfect to a deadly art form when you are older.

Right now your hair is reddish, your eyes are grey-blue, and you have perfectly rosy cheeks. I think you are a spectacularly good-looking baby, even with the constant waterfalls of drool coming from your cupid’s-bow mouth. (You have three teeth already!)

The first several weeks after you were born were really hard for me. I was tired, overwhelmed, and more than a little desperate-feeling, and I won’t lie, I wished for the time to go by more quickly, for you to grow up and not need so much from us. It’s hard to believe I ever felt that way, when now all I wish for is that time would slow down, that I could enjoy your babyhood for as long as I want, instead of the cruel truth of days slipping by faster and faster, every moment taking you just a bit away from me. The entire act of parenthood is a path of loss, Dylan, where the whole point is for you to grow up and away, and we will know we did at least a few things right when you carve out your own life completely separate from ours. I know how this time is such a sweet shutter-flash, and my heart, my little one, it will be over so soon. I am trying to hold on to it all, even as it constantly changes.

I wasn’t sure what life would be like with two children, and while there are surely new challenges and difficult moments, I could never have guessed how wonderful it was really going to be. How much fun we would have together. How you seem like you were always meant to be here. Like we were just waiting for you to arrive.

Dylan, I love you now and forever, more than words can express.



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