Motherhood at forty

So… last weekend, I turned forty. It’s been a full week since, and still, when I say the word “forty” (yes, there it is again), it sounds like I’m talking about someone else. But the truth is that it’s me — really me — and the other truth is that when Finn graduates from high school, I’m not going to be the cute, youthful, hip mom running around in the funky clothes. I’ll be nearly sixty, and who knows whether I’ll be able to run at all.

Although my decision to have Finn was indeed spurred on by the fact that I wasn’t getting any younger, my concerns about aging involved my reproductive age, so to speak, not the fact that my major parenting years would be from forty to sixty. These days, however, I can’t help but wonder how different Finn’s relationship with me will be than the ones I had with my parents, who were in their mid-twenties when I was born. By the time they were my age, I was a sophomore in high school. They were experienced parents with kids who were approaching adulthood themselves. In contrast, I’m just toddling into the world of parenthood behind my toddler.

I don’t know what kind of parent I would have been fifteen years ago, but I’d like to believe that my maturity will give me wisdom, that my passion will keep me young at heart, that my lifestyle will strengthen my mind and body. I’d like to believe that Finn will still want me around even when I’m not doing such a great job at all those things.

In the meantime, I’ll do my best to keep up.

A Valentine list for Finn, aged 16 months, 5 days

I love it when you do silly things to try to make us laugh.

I love it when you laugh about something, and we don’t get it.

I love it when you practice your scowl for fun and then crack up afterwards.

I love the fact that last month, I lost count of how many words you knew one day after I decided to try to keep track.

I love the way you say yellow, adding a few more syllables and some extra Ls, and eliminating the Y altogether.

I love the fact that Daddy and I have to spell words these days when we want to keep you from understanding us.

I love that you love tofu, and call it “fufu.”

I love to watch you try to eat with a fork.

I love that you call it a gork.

I love that you’re not only learning words, but teaching some, too.

I love it when I think you’re asleep in my arms, but then you surprise me in the quiet darkness by saying “eyes,” and poking me in the eye.

I love it when you pick and eat basil, beet greens, and lettuce straight out of the garden.

I love the fact that I can get you to eat almost anything green by telling you it came from the garden.

I love watching you dance to everything, from classical to a hard bass line.

I love it when you bounce to silence to tell us you want us to put on some music.

I love to watch you flip through books on your own, and stop and stare at certain pages for reasons I don’t understand.

I love that you excitedly exclaim “moon!” when you see anything with a crescent shape.

I love it when you wake up, and instead of crying, immediately ask “puff?” or “nana?”– wanting a snack.

I love how you’re starting to play imaginary games with sound effects, pretending one thing is something else.

I love watching you squint into the sun.

I love that you love pointing out belly-buttons.

I love the single curl of hair in the back of your head.

I love your version of a cat sound.

I love the way that you still give baby parrot kisses, with the tip of your tongue.

I love that I love you, even when I’m having a hard time finding anything to like in the world.

I love it when you look at me.

FINN: the musical

Finn’s ear for music has changed quite a bit since his “freshman” experience in music class last summer. Back then, he tended to be more interested in how his instruments tasted than how they sounded:

These days, however, he’s developing quite an ear. Just two beats into his favorite song, he recognizes it instantly and responds with what can only be described as utter joy:

He has more than one favorite, actually (thank goodness, as I’m not sure HOW many times I can listen to “shoo, fly” in a row).

Some songs are his favorites for clapping and tapping to:

Others are his favorites for spinning to:

There’s even one for singing to:

… and then there are those precious songs for clinging to: those that, even in all of his independent toddlerhood, make him run to us, grab our legs, look up and say, “up! Dance!” Hopefully, we still have some years left of dancing with him in our arms.