it takes two & it used to take only one.

Today you are two. This used to not be the case. Yesterday, for instance, you weren’t nearly so many. I guess things can’t help changing all the time.

Today we are reading your favorite book On The Day You Were Born. You point at the tiny stars on the page. I cry and cry and try to remember that growing was always part of the deal. This used to not be the case. You once had fingers that you couldn’t get to work. I once had a heart that I didn’t care to operate.

Before you found me I would never use romanticized phrases like “before you found me”. I was practical, a supporter of facts of figures, what some might call Joy Killer. I rebelled against the common Laws of Mom in that I thought most children’s books were dumb and couldn’t bring myself to apply flowery, magical, or otherwise ethereal terms to the poop’n’guts experience of parenthood. At a party in your honor, someone gifted me a copy of One The Day You Were Born. One bored afternoon I propped my pregnant self up on the couch and took to reading it to you. Basically it stated that on the eve of your birth the animal kingdom would toss around high-fives. Supposedly, I could expect the Earth to rejoice, the Sun and the stars to stand at attention, and more animal high-fives on the day of your birth. I scoffed at such a stupid theory, and opted instead for my own version of the tale: On the eve of your birth my back hurt. On the day you were born my crotch hurt, too.

In that sterile hospital room I kept a calm demeanor. I created a sort of carnival game out of guessing when the next contraction would sting, and cracked jokes about accidental birthing poops. I planned to finish this day just as I’d started, cynical and comfortably rusted over.

A push and then I saw you. Some blue birds high-five outside the window. The sun and the stars surely did stand still. And, my God, the Earth rejoiced. “So pretty,” I almost didn’t recognize the sugar in my voice as you stared at me. I cupped a hand under my mouth to catch that mushy garbage.

Still uncomfortable with this new storm of sweetness a’ brewing, I clung to the curtness I knew best. All of a sudden I didn’t trust myself not to cry or laugh or laugh-while-crying-only-to-explode-with-happiness in your presence. The mere notion that I could envision actually blowing up in a fit of joyful pyrotechnics was enough to give my cold soul the creeps. Safeguards came by way of reading To Kill A Mockingbird to you at night. Led Zeppelin’s greatest hits offered less sentimental lullabies.

By your first birthday, I caught myself falling deeper into that lovey-dovey cliché of mother and child. Despite my best efforts to treat to you as a foreign exchange student, there was no denying the me-ness of you. I couldn’t stop from describing motherhood as “life-changing”. Too often my mouth shocked my brain and slapped my ears with words about your being a “wonder” and as necessary as a heartbeat. Today, you are the “light of my life”, the “wind beneath my wings” and all sorts of other grandiose and heartfelt things. This used to not be the case.

Daily I watch your mind race, your hands fidget, your feet fumble to catch up. The terser Tori would’ve smirked, smug towards the naivety of a child. In the not so distant past I most definitely would have cracked a jab about your crooked knees and lackluster motor skills. I was mean like that. Today, I grab my knee when you scrape yours. I tell the wind to suck it up and stop blowing down your fort because I know that’s what you’d say if you only knew more words. Today, I’m the empathetic sort who’s feeling someone’s pain before they ever know pain is coming. This used to not be the case.

Things can’t stop changing all the time. It’s true. But it wasn’t a sudden change that snapped me from off to on. No, real progress rarely happens that way. Today, you are playing in the leaves. They are auburn, rusted orange, and hot yellow. I like to think the trees woke up so shocked and naked, from blossoming to bare overnight. People raking their yards below the limbs shake their heads. They aren’t surprised, the change from hot to cold always has to pass through warm.

You woke up one day not too long ago astonished with yourself, that you could dance and walk, chew and talk. I laughed. I wasn’t surprised. I’d watched that change build up in you. I woke up one day not too long ago astonished with myself, that I could cry at the overwhelming good around me, that I could turn from stone to butter with the hug from one, small thing. You laughed. You weren’t surprised. You’d watched that maternal sensitivity sneaking up behind me. I suppose I thought I’d never warm.

Today you are two. I am a lullaby-humming, nursery-rhyming, boo-boo-kissing fool. I cradle. I cuddle. I grab my chest a few times a day because gratitude sometimes feels like a heart attack. You’ve turned me into a walking stereotype, a hypocrite, the big winner at a crow eating contest.

Today you are two. Today I’ve never so welcomed your proving me wrong.

"And as they held you close they whispered into your open, curving ear, 'We are so glad you've come'."- On The Day You Were Born

50 thoughts on “it takes two & it used to take only one.

  1. This made me laugh and tear up a little… One of the most beautiful things I have ever read. I’m not a mum, but I have a bunch of little ones around me & more to come, and it reminded me of every single one of them. You really are an amazing writer. You have a real cute baby over there, too. Happy Birthday to him & I hope he has a wonderful day!

  2. This is touching and warm and funny and beautiful. Perfecto. I gave that book to my son and daughter-in-law when my granddaughter was born. It is a favorite. Enjoy each moment and thanks for sharing some of it with us.

  3. Overwhelmingly beautiful. I think this is the best thing I’ve ever read and I read it through my tears. Thank you Tori, for sharing your incredible gift.


  4. absolutely beautiful!! Definitely teared up. And I have too felt that “gratitude sometimes feels like a heart attack” –that is a perfect description. It is truly amazing, the love of a mother for her child. BTW, I was reading “I’ll love you forever” to my boys the other night and started crying, like real tears that I couldn’t stop from coming and had to go get tissues to dry my eyes and blow my nose. Uh, how are we going to let them grow up!?!?!

  5. Happy Birthday. I hope he has a bottomless supply of juice in a brand new sippy cup, and you feel like a million bucks.

    I read posts like this and wonder what is wrong with me. You convey the transforming love of a mother like flame alight on the horizon. I always wanted to feel that and never did. You are very blessed, Tori, regardless of what the standard folks who use that word would tell you. xo

  6. What’s the old saying? “It’s amazing how a room full of genius IQs can be turned into babbling idiots with the presence of a child”?
    You are not just two. You are one and one, and in a wonder of math that would even boggle Einstein, one plus one equals so much more than two.
    Happy Birthday to your miracle! And Happy “Enjoy His Birthday” Day to you, Tori! 🙂

  7. Sometimes,I am the old you. Stories like this remind me that it’s ok to use my broken heart once in awhile…cautiously. I had never wanted kids. When I found out a few years ago I couldn’t have any, something in me broke whether I like to admit it or not. I honestly believe, behind my brick wall, there is a lot of love to give. Your story gives me hope even if it’s of a love I could never have…I could have it in differnt capacities. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Beautiful post, Tori. I love the phrase the “me-ness of you.” I hope you both have your wishes come true when he blows out the candles on his cake.

  9. You’ve put things into words that I feel, but could never convey. He is a total SPUNK!! And a month younger than Miss A. Think he’d make the perfect toy boy for her. 🙂

  10. Gorgeous post, Tori. Isn’t it amazing how quickly we all turn into those mushy sentimental moms? Pretty much starts the second they exist. Just wait until he’s nine and you try to kiss him on the cheek and say, “Where’s my sweet baby boo? Where did he go?” as he runs away. Happy birthday to an amazing little man. You are doing a great job, mama!

  11. Wonderful post and tribute to what a little man like him can do to a crazy person such as yourself, haha. Tell me you don’t agree that this love letter came remarkably easy to you as you sat down to write. I know I painstakingly racked my brain for the words I wanted to express to my little ones, but once I hit that first keystroke, the mushiness set in and it was all over. Happy Birthday to your little man!

  12. Happy Birthday to a cute little boy! It is amazing what our children do to our hearts! I have an eighteen year old…and boy do they grow up fast! I would give anything to push rewind and hold him.

  13. Beautiful post, Tori! Absolutly exquisite.

    And here’s a toast to your wee one:

    Today you are you!
    That is truer than true!
    There is no one alive
    Who is you-er than you!

    Shout loud . . .
    “I am lucky to be what I am!
    Thank goodness I’m not just a clam or a ham
    Or a dusty old jar of sour gooseberry jam!

    I am what I am!
    That’s a great thing to be!
    If I say so myself,

  14. I totally understand how you “thought” before having a baby. I never wanted children. I’m not a big baby person–or so I thought. I have 4 grown children 30, 29, 22, and 16, and my first Grand Daughter and my Grandson is due 21st of December. I am completely smitten and I never had any idea that grand children would be so fun. If you think being a mom is grand — wait for the Grand babies! They are your reward for the Teen years. YEA!

    Enjoy everyday! Savor each moment just like you are doing. Life’s Good! 🙂

  15. tori, this is breathtakingly beautiful. I have never heard of that book, but wow to be able to see your love for him through these words is magical. I can honestly say I’ve never been more moved by words just spectacular! Happy birthday Thomas and remember your one lucy lil dude, this used to not be the case.

  16. Ok so this is simply a repeat-
    This is simply the most lovely thing you have written…as he is probably the most lovely thing you have done.

    Well done on both counts, Momma.
    Happy, happy, birthday.

  17. Ahh, yes…this takes me back! I used to be the Old You, too. Then I morphed into the New You. Now I’m Some Other You, or whatever it is that you become when your precious little angels turn into teenagers. It’s still good, just different!

  18. This is such a great post. I didn’t think I’d get all mushy with my kids, but I did – and loved it. This *almost* made me cry just because my kids are long past the days of Toddlerhood (nine and ‘almost six’ seem miles away) – I miss the sugary sweetness of those days.

    I hope he enjoyed his birthday!

  19. Oh, Tori…. We have that book, given to my son before he was born – back when I believed that he would be just like my daughter and I was a total pro at this whole parenting thing. Hah! He loves it, of course, I think because he’s so much closer to the rhythm of the world than I can understand. Gratitude does feel like a heart attack, for sure. Lovely, lovely post.

  20. So beautiful, Tori. You’ve melted my non-maternal heart with this post. [she ducks and brushes away the beginnings of tears] Must be my allergies acting up again. 🙂

  21. What a sweet, sweet post. Sums up almost exactly how I, erm, I mean, my mum, feels as she watches me grow up so quickly 😦

    Happy Birthday and congrats mum and dad on two big ones!


  22. Choosing a parenting post from you, Tori, is like picking out the most beautiful flower in a garden. Absolutely impossible.

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