My kids and I with my grandma November 2015
Then the next day, on April 1, my baby turned one. He also started walking, so he is completely a toddler now, toddling around. Not a baby. And he's my last. Unless Jeff and I receive a surprise, there will be no more babies. And that is so wonderful and sad at the same time. I'm pretty up and down and emotional about this right now. His infant year was so different than those of my other babies. I taught English at school, and while it wasn't many hours, it still added up into more separation from him than any of my others. So, he has eaten more baby food than they did and has two other care givers who watch him while I'm teaching and running around with the other kids, and he loves them both so much. And I have to try not to be jealous of sharing him. And I try not to feel guilty about making him the youngest. Someone has to be the youngest.
Gordito eating a gordita
A week and a half later was the anniversary of the birthday of my deceased niece, Tabitha. She was the cousin closest in age to Daniel, so she should have been turning five. But she never got to turn five, or four, or have any birthday at all. And thinking of all the birthdays she never had on earth made me feel like I really needed to get over feeling sad about Gordon's first birthday, because while I won't ever have another baby of my own, I do have a toddler, and that is wonderful and amazing.
We miss the baby you were and the girl you would have been, Tafla.
Now on Monday, we will celebrate Jill's birthday. Somehow she is already turning seven. The Montessori system makes a big deal about celebrating birthdays and going back over the years and sharing with the class. So I have been going through pictures and thinking about Jill's life, and it seems like the one constant we have given her (other than love, of course) is change. She was born in Utah. Then she lived in Ohio. Then she lived in Virginia. Then she lived for a short bit in Brazil. Now she lives in Mexico, and next year she'll live in a different part of Virginia and then Gabon. She's never been homesick, because other than home-as-a-family, I've never given her a home-as-a-place to be sick for. I hope she doesn't hate me for that some day. She's so amazing. She's sensitive and caring and funny and smart and brave. It is so fun to have a child old enough to talk to.
A few days later will be my tenth wedding anniversary. Tenth. How did that happen? I remember being a young married couple and sitting in church, listening to people give talks who had been married for three years and thinking what a long time that was and how I couldn't wait until we had been married that long and had probably worked out all of our problems. (Ha.) Well, it's been ten years. We still have problems. I still don't always get Jeff's sarcasm. He still finds himself lost (and amazed, of course) by the trains of thought that I follow. We disagree. And we always get past it. And we have a lot of fun all of the rest of the time. It's amazing to look back at what we've built together. Four kids. Three states. Three countries. Five jobs. Dozens of fights. Some tears. One slap (whoops!). Millions of kisses. Ten beautiful years.
I love you, honey. And I really love us.