It used to be just you and me, kid.
I remember it like it was yesterday, but you say you don’t remember it at all.
It started with walks along the National Mall, the monuments our backdrop for our afternoon strolls together. I was finishing up my semester in grad school and you were just getting ready for this big world, bouncing around in my tummy. You were becoming my everything.
Those were the quiet days. The ladies at the grocery store were always so excited to see me, my big belly hitting the counter. I loved their joy for you so much I bought groceries every other day just to talk to them.
Saturday mornings eating crepes at Eastern Market. Scouring through fancy children’s boutiques that we’d never be able to afford, but made the dreaming of you all the more exciting. I loved feeling your kicks and wiggles. Time with you was sweet when you were just starting to grow.
We moved together across the country. Packing up the old Subaru and managing to shove my giant belly in there with all my belongings and gifts for your arrival. Somehow. You and me together on a road trip with your grandpa to return “home”. Your new home, my old home. I couldn’t wait to make this place our home.
This was the start of family time. This is when you were embraced by an already bustling extended family; you and I were now with those who would end up being our everything. All before you even took your first breath. Our family was growing, changing, and it was good. We were no longer alone, though in many ways it was still just the two of us, especially at night when I’d rest my hand on my belly and feel your gentle kicks.
It was just you and me back then.
We moved into grandma and grandpa’s house. Awaiting your arrival was a sweet time. Chowing down cherry yogurt, seeing you on the ultrasound screen, keeping your name a secret, but mostly just waiting for grandma to get home to help pull off my winter boots that I no longer could reach beyond my growing belly.
And then you were here. Four days of labor. I didn’t know that was even possible. You were welcomed by a room of loved ones and friends, right into my arms where I could keep you forever. The room erupted in cheers because it took so long for you to come. Our midwife said she’d never seen a baby welcomed with so much love. This eased my anxious single mom heart. You were showered with a forever love by everyone who got to know you. I loved being your one and only. Time with you was sweet when you were my little baby.
We had a community and family, but it was still just you and me.
Time with grandma and grandpa was special. Bumpa taking you for walks on his lunch break so I could take a shower, grandma watching you when I returned to work. They made it possible to fully enjoy that first year together.
And you grew and grew. We moved to a sweet little apartment in the city, where my heart had blossomed all those years ago, in hopes that your heart, too, would grow to love the world that was found in our neighborhood. New languages, foods, sights to form you. To form us as a family of two. This is where I want to raise you.
Preschool at our community school, walks around the block, trips to the park, snuggles every night, visits with family all the time. Life was good. Oh so good.
Time was sweet when it was just you and I in our little city apartment.
Then I met someone. I met daddy and then you met daddy. When I ask you when your first memory was, you say it was when you met him.
Then we became the three of us.
Though you quickly forgot we had a life before daddy, it took me time to adjust to the change. Sharing my heart with the two of you was the easy part. Life was so full and so good with daddy in it that we rarely had time to look back at the old days.
When people would ask who daddy was, you’d respond with, “You know, the guy whose shoulders I’m always on.”
Life was sweet when it was just the three of us.
And then three turned into the three of us and a dog. Sometimes we forget we have a dog because it wasn’t long until the three of us and a dog welcomed a little baby into our home. You became a big brother.
You said you don’t remember what life was like before your baby brother came. Just like you don’t remember life before daddy.
I remember it all. It was sweet when I could just focus on you. Some days I miss when it was just the two of us. Other days I miss when it was just the three of us. But most days I am grateful that now it’s the four of us (and the dog).
The special thing about you is that you were the first to turn what used to be just me into a family. You were the one that taught me about the deepest, most selfless love. You were the one that turned my eyes from inward to outward. And our whole family gets to thank you for that.
You will always be my first baby, my little buddy, my cute little sidekick, my incredible, sweet and wild firstborn.
And even if you don’t remember the days when it was just the two of us, I know that those days were extremely important in making us, us. And even when we feel like we might be losing bits and pieces of it, I know that it was those special first years of being just you and I that created the forever bond we can count on to keep us together.
You say you don’t remember when it was just the two of us.
And that’s OK. I will never grow tired of telling the stories of walks along the National Mall and big bellies in cars and cheers in the delivery room and meeting daddy and your brother for the first time. And when we can, recreating little moments of time together.
It used to be just you and me, kid, and telling the story of how our family came to be is one of my favorite things to do.