WARNING: Sentimental Mommy Post
Before the Cracker was born the number 3 never had any significance in my life - it was just another number. If you had pushed me about the number 3 I would have told you about how my aunt gave me an "I'm Three" necklace for my third birthday (Carrie Bradshaw style) which instantly became one of my most prized possessions until I accidentally swallowed it. My poor mom actually had to watch for it to pass, dig it out, disinfect it with only God-knows-what and give it right back to me. (And of course it was still one of my most prized possessions because what 3 year old would care that it had been part of a number 2.)
But all that changed when after 42 weeks and 1 day of gestation, the Cracker entered the big wide world on 3.30.2003.
And tonight it hit me, really hit me...my little boy, gulp, is about to turn 3.
I feel like crying.
Adult birthdays are supposed to be hard. The grand majority of the population either ignores them or gets depressed. But I never realized how hard this birthday was going to be.
Subconsciously, I realize I've been preparing for it since mid October. Two weeks after he officially turned 2 1/2 I changed from "he's almost 2 1/2" to "he's going to be 3." Nice strangers would kindly inquire "oh, when's his birthday?" Me: "Umm...March." Crazy lady! Doesn't she know that's 5 months from now?
I am a stay-at-home mom. Not right for everyone, but right for us. 99% of his awake time has been spent with me. The Cracker is unrequitedly attached to only four people in the world...me, J, and his grandparents Nana and Pappy. The end result is that those four people are his world, and he and I are best friends.
We don't hire babysitters. Money spent on childcare thus far...$0, no kidding. (Admittedly, not the healthiest thing we've ever done for our marriage, but we've still got the love.) We have no family in town. Including dragging J on an all day trip through Ikea, we've probably had 5 dates since he was born, most of which have lasted less than 4 hours. Locally, when I've needed help, my mommy friends will have him over for a play date. Those adults though, in his mind, are his friend's moms, not his friends.
You get the idea, right?
Suddenly he's almost 3, and man, that's depressing. It's not that I want to wish him all the way back to infancy permanently. Those times were precious, so sweet and dreamy, and I'd never trade those memories for anything. But honestly, toddlerhood kicks their ass. Watching a little person search so hard to find out who they want to be, all the while having an unbreakable sense of self, knowing exactly who they are in that moment. (Hmmm...we're going to story time at the library? I think I'll wear my $2.99 red plastic fireman's hat, a Thomas the Tank t-shirt under my chicken costume from last Halloween, and my bear slippers. Yup, that works!)
So as he runs full steam through toddlerhood, constantly chasing after independence, he always comes back to me looking for grounding when the world gets too big and scary. I'm not just his mother; I'm his tour guide, his constant companion, and occasionally the big cheese that gives him time-outs. Hell, in the eyes of an almost 3 year old I actually know it all, or can at least fudge a damn good answer. But still, more than anything, we are best friends. Flame me for saying it, but it's the strongest bond you'll ever experience and if you haven't been there for yourself there just isn't any way to explain it to you. And I know how lucky I've been. At the adventurous age of almost 3, it's rare to find a little guy who still *needs* insane numbers of hugs, kisses and at least an hour of pure unadulterated cuddle time each day. No matter what gets him down a hug from me always solves it.
So what makes me sad about 3 is that I know this time is coming to an end. As much as I want to deny it with my whole heart, I know that in another 3 years, when he's 6, I will no longer be his best friend. My little boy will no longer try to stall my leaving for 45 minutes of alone time at the grocery store with a thousand "bye-bye mommas" and an even greater number of hugs and kisses. Instead of my cutting it off with "I love you with all my heart...you're making me laugh! But I'm really leaving now...Seriously! I am! Just as soon as I stop laughing and get one last hug" I'll be the one trying to squeeze out another moment.
And that breaks my heart.