Brandon Jude,

Somehow or another, five years have passed since the day you made me a mother. A different one this time: a mother with a child to care for.

You changed me, as I suppose everyone I know changes me, but in a different way. In a more intense, permanent way. You taught me sacrifice and patience (some – you’re not a miracle worker). To love completely, to feel it back. To be stubborn, to give in. You reminded me of living in the moment, something I had lost. You replenished me.

Three years ago, when you became a brother, you showed me a new side of yourself. You are caring and kind and patient and helpful. You always pay attention to and take care of your brother, even when he hits or scratches you. You told me yesterday you will let me hug you until you become a daddy, but then I can’t hug you anymore. You’ve always wanted to be a daddy. To take care of people.

On Sunday, we went to a birthday party for one of your preschool friends and Holden came along. You looked out for him, told everyone he was your brother. You danced with a girl, your girlfriend, you said. You are a popular boy with lots of friends and without an enemy. You are theatrical and happy, except when you’re mopey and whiny. You feel intensely, not just with emotions, but with your senses too. Sometimes you can’t stand the smell of your brother’s sucker: you tell me your head will explode if I don’t roll down the window.

You are a problem solver. Just today the doctor told you this monkey didn’t work anymore, but you found the on switch and proved him wrong. You put together a complicated Lego dinosaur nearly all by yourself yesterday and you told me, “now that I’m five, I’m even smarter.” You tell me how big your brain is getting inside your head. Your memory is uncanny. People marvel at all you know, even though they only know a sliver it. You help out around the house most of the time, but sometimes you say, “I just want to relax.”

I feel you, kid: you and me both. I haven’t relaxed since you were born, but I have hopes of it in the future. Because you are my oldest kid and you will help me out so I can relax. You will keep an eye on your brother and clean up messes and make me smile. You turned me into something I wasn’t–a mother–and I know it is you that will allow me to slip back into myself along with this role I’ve never conquered.

I’m sorry I haven’t been the best mother. It hasn’t come natural for me. But as you say, “we can just try our best.” That’s what I’ve done. I’ve given you all I have to give. I know you will see that one day. You probably already do, with that big brain of yours. You are my sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you.

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