To Benedict on His Second Birthday

To Benedict on His Second Birthday

Holding Ben for the first time.

My Dearest Ben,

On the eve of your second birthday I thought you were never going to go to bed. It almost seemed you were determined to keep vigil and see in the new day as it arrived. Long after your sisters and brother were asleep you were fighting the good fight. I held you close but you turned and tossed and elbowed and grabbed and would not, could not settle. Cuddled in the dark on my bed I prayed the prayers of Vespers with you. And then I flicked off the iPhone and dozed off with you in my arms but still sleep wouldn’t come your way and so I prayed my way through the sorrowful mysteries and you didn’t give up until the final decade when gradually your head became a heavy weight against my belly and I knew you were finally asleep.

At the second sorrowful mystery I was feeling anything but prayerful. I wanted to scream and rant and rave and the Hail Marys came out like bullets from between clenched teeth. And yet I suppose I needed that rosary because there was no other way I was going to pray it. SO I have you to thank for that.

I’ve prayed more than a few unwilling rosaries in the past few months due to your night owl tendencies.

But this wasn’t going to be about me and my spiritual struggles but about you and how much you are growing. Because when we wake up in the morning it will be your birthday and you will be two. Two! TWO!!!

Oh I love you my sweet two. And I see already your babyhood has slipped through my hands. I don’t want to let your toddlerhood go either. I want to gather it up and kiss it with the last remnants of baby fat clinging to your frame which is already getting longer and leaner. I want to gather up the way you run, almost on tiptoe. The way you beg for “cuddles”. The sweet way you ask for your favorite beverage half a dozen times a day: “Dilk, pease.”

You are all boy and so very different from your sisters. Your love affair with trucks and tractors and cars and, well, anything with wheels. The patient, methodical way you park them. Driving each one into place and forming neat lines, organized by type. Oh so very different from your sisters!

I am glad you have a little brother who may be able to enter into that world with you. And even though right now he can’t do much about playing with you, you love him adoringly even so, throwing yourself into crushing hugs. Yes, you clearly love your “Ni-Ni” and he adores you with gummy drooling grins.

*    *    *

I didn’t publish this this morning because at 4:30 Sophie woke up screaming. And she woke everyone else up too. Except Anthony. And Ben was hysterical and couldn’t be calmed down. I mean back-arching, shrieking, crazy wild boy. Only his auntie could calm him.

So we all slept in. And everyone was very cranky and needy. And the birthday boy demanded pancakes for breakfast. And then we went to the farmer’s market and then out for a birthday lunch. And then naps and then dinner and then baths and then bedtime and once again Ben didn’t want to go to bed. So it was ten by the time he fell asleep in my lap clutching his blankies and a crucifix while I prayed the rosary.

So I never baked a cake or wrapped his presents. We decided since two year-olds don’t really care much about birthdays anyway that we’d wait and do that stuff tomorrow when my sister can be here anyway.

Oh Ben, two is not an easy age and my experience tells me that the coming year is probably not going to get any easier. But we will get through it with God’s grace and a lot of prayer.

I love you more than words can say, my little Ben.

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  • I’m in favor of your style of birthday parties for a small child rather than the overblown extravaganza that I’ve seen for one- and two- year-olds.  I mean who are these parents trying to impress?  Their darling youngster or their friends and family?

    But I’m not a mother so what do I know?

  • I think your birthday celebrations sound perfect.  They don’t overwhelm you or the birthday child.  They focus on people, not things, and they don’t escalate the stress from year to year, child to child.  Low key, meaningful, authentic.  Bravo!

  • Just saw this. My boy’s 3rd birthday was the 10th. We had a similar party. Cupcakes and presents crammed into the last hour before bedtime. That worked well. grin I’ve been working on presentation, not my strong suit, esp at 37 1/2 weeks. Fortunately his older siblings love to wrap, and he doesn’t care what it looks like.