Note: photos to be added later. Still working on importing old posts.
[Photo: On ring bearer duty]
On Monday night, just a few hours before his fourth birthday, I rocked Xavi in my arms like he was still a baby. His long, tanned legs and arms reaching well over my lap. He was crying softly and I had no clue. We had done our normal bedtime routine. We brushed our teeth together, I read to him a bit (lately it’s been a few chapters of the Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels), we said prayers, had a little bit of water and gave each other bedtime hugs and kisses. I don’t know what made him so sad as he couldn’t really speak through the tears to tell me. All I knew was that I couldn’t console him as I had when I was a baby with nursing, rocking, songs and shushes. It almost made me cry.
[Photo: Break from dancing (his favorite) for a picture]
I couldn’t help but think how fitting, that on the eve of his fourth birthday he let me hold him like a baby again. This isn’t rare though, since Archie arrived, Xavi acts like a baby and jumps in to my lap a few times a week. But this was different. The tears and emotion weren’t faked.
[Photo: Thomas hats for all the pre-schoolers]
In the morning, the tears were gone and Xavi was back to his energetic self. He was super excited too because after talking about it for weeks, it was finally his birthday. He was four!
[Photo: They see me rolling]
Despite the momentous occasion, our Tuesday didn’t change much. Xavi and Archie still went to daycare. Xavi wore the same 3T birthday shirt he wore last year. He’s definitely grown, but more in height than overall weight. We took some mini cupcakes and party hats to share with his friends. After work, we came home and had dinner. We FaceTimed with my mom and Lori so they could watch him open some presents (train related, of course). He opened up some Cars toys from me and Sean. And then got the big gift, a new bike from my mother-in-law, Eula. He’s already taken the bike out a few times and I know he’ll make the most of the remaining months of nice weather riding in our new neighborhood.
[Photo: Mixtape cover (November 2016)]
As Xavi has grown from baby to toddler to pre-schooler, I keep coming back to this quote that struck me when I read Ruth L. Ozeki’s All Over Creation in 2014:
Time plays tricks on mothers. It teases you with breaks and brief caesuras, only to skip wildly forward, bringing breathtaking changes to your baby’s body. Only he wasn’t a baby anymore, and how often did I have to learn that? The lessons were painful.
I don’t think it’s ever going to stop feeling incredibly relevant.
Celebrating Xavi’s fourth birthday didn’t leave me with that same melancholy of the first, second or third birthdays. I may miss baby Xavi, but I also have a very active and mobile Archie — still baby, at least for four more weeks — to keep me on my toes. I’m also excited to see Xavi make friends in our new neighborhood, learn to ride his bike, starting school and keep meeting more milestones.
[Photo: Archie cameo!]
[Photo: After Kenton’s funeral, Xavi wanted to play with the soccer ball that Kenton got specifically to play with him.]
What made me emotional was looking at the photos from previous birthday celebrations and thinking about who we have lost in such a short amount of time. This is the first birthday where my father-in-law, Kenton wasn’t there to celebrate with us. For the first birthday, they came to LA to visit us, and we celebrated the second and third birthdays in Long Island at their home.
[Photo: Blowing bubbles for Grandpa Kenton at the cemetery]
So, yeah… I guess those lessons of watching your baby go from tiny newborn to little boy can be painful. Lately, it’s not the child growing, but what is changing around him that hurts.
Still, I can’t be too sad. I have a healthy, happy little boy who surprises me every single day with how much he’s learning.
Happy birthday, Xavi. I love who you are right now, but also can’t wait to see the breathtaking changes to come.