a love song to one and three

Calendar says it won’t be long till you’re gone, my darlings.

August is looming on the horizon, languid and tongue-lolling in the humid heat, and she brings birthdays. So our days together are numbered.

It’s been a good run, hasn’t it? Twelve months plodding along together, hand in grubby hand, stretching legs out of too-short pants and pushing toes to the ends of too-tight shoes.

I wonder where weeks went, where days disappeared when it seems like we were just frosting cakes and twisting crepe paper streamers to celebrate your arrivals. But One and Three, you are too quick to catch, slipping out of my hands like soapy boys squealing in the bathtub.

I can’t hold on to you.

I wonder what I will miss when you’re gone, you One and Three paired like stair steps that you slide down together, bumpety-bump to breakfast every morning.

One. You raced from crawling to toddling to walking to jumping to flying off furniture. You babbled from first words to first sentences to 24/7 running commentary. I’d be exhausted from watching you burst into bloom if I weren’t so tired keeping up with your energy.

You are baby personality turned vibrant in toddlerhood. You are kicking tantrum and knowing grin. You are Yes No Yes No all in one breath, boyhood dirt smudged behind the ears and babyhood curls still ringing round your forehead. You are an ever-shifting hologram: turn this way for the baby he was, turn that way for the boy he becomes.

One is wonder.


Three. You curl up on the couch alone with books, and I startle to see the next stage unfolding before my eyes: in which the world becomes yours to explore and we are not your only guides. You obsess in phases – puzzles, numbers, music, reading – as your focus narrows to whatever captures your curious mind and its cranking gears. You need nudging ahead towards independence and cuddling back towards comfort. You hold back neither tears nor affection.

You turned the corner towards school, learned to let a little sibling tag along, and started to let love fall on friends and family beyond our walls. You are tumbling towards true boyhood with every somersault and flying leap off the swing set. You are already becoming what I am catching up to see: a big kid, tearing down the driveway beyond my reach.

Three is tender.

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But the beauty of you is not these ages alone. It’s the dynamic, deafening duo of you together: One plus Three equals exhaustion and exuberance.

And together you were my teacher.

You taught me patience. One plus Three equal four trips to the bathroom every time we try to eat dinner, four feet tripping over shoes as we try to head out the door, four hands grabbing at the same toy whenever we try to play nicely. I teach you deep breaths and you teach me forgiveness and we all grow in patience, at least a smidge every day.

You taught me to pay attention. Jetliners trailing through the afternoon sky, bright glints between clouds. Red stop signs and green cement trucks, squares and circles on the billboards. Flocks of ducks in the lake and hills of ants on the sidewalk. I would miss them all if not for your keen pairs of eyes.

You taught me to let go. Once Three was confident he could play in the basement by himself, One was sure he should follow. So now I let you totter down together, and I listen to you entertain each other from upstairs. Baby steps and time trials towards independence – yours and mine – are a beautiful thing.

You taught me the beauty of boyhood. Beyond babyland, this year broke me into the world of boys. One and Three, you brought me Matchbox cars skittering across the kitchen floor, nightly wrestling matches before bathtime, creepy crawly bugs poked with curious prodding, elbows and knees skinned and bug-bitten beyond my band-aiding. I am a better woman for it.


Oh, One and Three. Only a few more weeks till we bid adieu.

I want to wrap you up in my arms and marvel at how those lanky limbs of yours spill out of the lap that once held you. But Two and Four are nipping at your heels. I already see them sneaking through, the even-more indignant tantrums and the ever-deepening curiosity. You are off and I will follow. It will be ever thus, it seems.

But I have loved you, together. And I suspect I will delight in what you become.

To Two. For Four.

Here we go…

9 thoughts on “a love song to one and three

  1. As Mom to a 10-month old and 3 year-old, this felt particularly poignant…some of it, I have seen, some of it is yet to come in the months ahead. Thank you!

    1. You’re welcome, Megan! It is so poignant, these small years linked together. Sometimes it makes me sad to think they will “actively” remember none of it…but I think these young experiences are the marrow in our bones so it’s making them the men they will be…

  2. They might not remember actively, but it’s part of who they’re becoming. My irish twins are now 8 and 7, and they’re absolutely inseparable. Much like how you commented on the “together” aspect of your boys, as a pair they coalesce into something entirely new. Enjoy!

  3. I love how you wrote not just about the boys’ separate ages & stages at this moment in time, but also about the two of them together. That brother-dynamic is so precious, too — and it also changes — and it is worth savoring, as you remind us so beautifully here. Love this!

    1. Thank you, Ginny! I love when you write about the “brother dynamic” too. I find it so fascinating as a mom to see this develop before my eyes: it is somehow different from being/having a sister!

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