It's been raining for two straight weeks and no one is more heartbroken about it than my four-year-old son, Finn.
"Why is the sky so mean?" he asks in tears, devastated, morning after morning, wondering aloud whether he'll ever again be permitted to wear shorts and a T-shirt -- his ensemble of choice, regardless of season or temperature.
Finally, yesterday, the sun broke and eighty-degrees is forecasted for mid-week: Just like that here in Northern California, we leap from the dregs of winter into summer, lickety split. Spring is merely a formality.
"I can get dressed all by myself," Finn whispers to me in my bed first thing this morning and then leaps out to make it happen. He has on his shorts and blue T-shirt before it's even light out, standing in front of me doing a jig, all while my eyes adjust to being open.
Who is this person, I ask myself for what must be the hundredth time, watching him dance and cackle with delight.
So, let's go over this: You are pregnant for nine --okay, ten -- months and then this person comes out of your person and then you feed them and change them and wipe things and stay up all night with them and they grow and grow and you fumble through sleep training and potty training and feeding solids and getting rid of the pacifier and the tantrums and then one morning they wake up and are fully dressed at the foot of your bed doing an Irish jig.
Both of our children are so clearly themselves -- not my husband or I, though there are similarities in smiles and eyes and hair. Maybe even temperament. But the very person-ness of them, the love of sun or basketball or chocolate, the need to be first to be seen or to be seen, but not stared at -- these are all such specific and unique qualities that are them and only them. What is so fortunate I think, given how completely separate and individual it turns out children actually are -- it's so fortunate that we like them, these people.
We like them. We really, really like them.
And it's not because they are little versions of us, but because they are them, because they tell silly jokes and shake hands with old people and like to bake and shoot hoops and pat us on the back gently at bedtime. We are so very lucky because the people that we never knew they would become, they have become -- and they are such very sweet people mostly. It turns out that the babies I loved, the children I love, are also the very people I adore.
Tonight, at bedtime, Finn and I will sing what we always sing, about the sun and about one another: We will sing it quietly, snug and warm in the fortress that is his tiny twin bed and my heart will break wide open, as it always does:
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,
You make me happy when skies are gray.
You'll never know dear, how much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.
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