Letter to Max at Six Years

Dear Max,

Oh, Max. So much of my heart and soul is bound up in those three letters. The letters that represent you – my firstborn, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

The enormity of my love for you fills me more every day, as we approach the sixth anniversary of your birth. I used to watch a television show called “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”. In one episode, the father of one of the teenage characters tells the mother of a toddler that he loves his son “18 years more” than she loves hers. (I’m not sure of the exact quote and couldn’t find it online.) The longer you know your children, the more you love them. So many speak of the flood of love they felt when they first laid eyes on their child or experiencing it as a tide coming in once those first few sleepless weeks are over. Very few talk about the fact that you may well love your child more at 18 than you did when you met them, because it sounds bad. But it makes sense. It is hard to fully and truly love someone you don’t know. The love you feel for your newborn is somewhat analogous to your first love. It is incredibly intense, but maybe a tad superficial. At the very least, you’ve got on rose-colored glasses. The more you love and work on a relationship with someone, the more they mean to you.

My anxiety fog, as I like to refer to it, obscured my feelings during much of your very early years. While I knew, absolutely KNEW, that I loved you, I could not feel it. I already knew what it felt like to love a child as your own. I felt that way about your oldest cousins Madison and Cameron when I cared for them when they were little. I loved them so deeply that it broke my heart to leave them to go to college. I couldn’t stop thinking about them for months after I left. Although it broke my heart, my love for them was one of the most beautiful feelings I ever experienced. It suffused my cells with a rapturous glow that somehow rendered hard work and sacrifice bearable, even easy at times.

By the time you were born, I was a decade older and suffering the effects of a long untreated nervous breakdown. Although I knew that love resided in my heart for you, I could not feel it. Knowing what I was missing made the situation so much worse. Suspecting that you were missing out as well made it intolerable.

As the years passed, I healed somewhat and learned to manage my anxiety on my own. The fog cleared at times and my love for you would fill my heart. But I knew I was still missing something precious.

Going on Zoloft cleared away the fog for good and enabled me to bask in the wondrousness of you. I feel that love, that amazing, all-encompassing love that I KNEW was there all along. I look at your bespectacled, smiling face with the three teeth-widths’ gap in the front and the awe and love overwhelm me. You. Are. Amazing.

I feel as if I discover your sweetness, intelligence, and all around adorableness anew every day. Today is your first day at a new school especially for active, gifted kids. I am so proud, yet I have spent the day nervously waiting to pick you up, wondering endlessly how you are doing, praying that you are having a good day. School has not been easy for you so far. I am so hopeful we have found the right place for you to grow and flourish. It helps that, as I drove away, I glimpsed you standing among a group of kids with a big smile on your face. I’ve carried that picture with me all day.

What can I tell you specifically about yourself at almost 6? You love science, especially space. You love to build with Legos, Play-Doh, Trio blocks, Magnatiles, and pretty much anything you can get your hands on. You read beautifully, even attempting chapter books on your own. Some of your favorites right now are the “Magic Treehouse” series, the “Magic School Bus” series, “Madeline” books, and ghost stories. Instead of wheedling more cuddle time out of me every night, you read until a specified time, then turn off your reading light and go to sleep. (Usually. We caught you still reading at 11 pm one night.)

Although I heard from others how much they enjoy having older children, I don’t know if I quite believed it. Despite the hardships of caring for babies and toddlers, I have always found them irresistible. I wondered if I would be able to relate to older children or if I would be bored to tears by the activities they chose.

I won’t lie. I do get bored sometimes. I don’t like building quite as much as you do, although I love the Lego sets. But I love rediscovering my favorite childhood books, TV shows, and movies with you, as well as new ones. You easily sit through a movie in the theater now. We frequently head to the Alamo and pig out on their buttered popcorn while watching a new kids’ movie. (We are both big fans of their buttered popcorn.)

One of your singular characteristics is your love and patience for your siblings. Since your last birthday, you gained another sister. Your love for her is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. You can’t wait to see her every morning. You grab her leg and kiss it as soon as you finish tackling me with a hug at school pickup. I have only seen you angry or frustrated with her a few times in this entire year. You and she form a mutual admiration society only superseded by your adoration of your parents at this point. I could not be happier that you have a sibling, an ally, living with you in this house once again.

Sometimes, you grab your sister and hold on to her so tight, just refusing to let go, no matter how much she squirms. I’ve realized that you learned that from me. I grab you sometimes and just squeeze, breathing you in, and peppering your face with kisses, as you laugh and squirm. I let go when you ask me, but only then. At times, you are hugging me back and we call it “a hug to last all day” or “a hug to last till morning” or “filling our love meters”. There is nothing in this world sweeter than your smile, your hugs and kisses, your voice saying “Mommy”. You were the first to call me “Mommy”. The voices of all of my children are sweet music, especially on that word, but yours holds the echo of my delight at hearing it first.

You, Max. Amazing, sweet, incredible, loving, smart you. I am prouder of you than ever and I love you more than ever – six years more.

All my love,

Mommy

 

 

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