Dear Jack and Oli,

Photo credit: Lauren Bodie

Dear Jack and Oliver,

Usually one of my favorite things to do in the fall is write you a letter for your birthday and put it up here on the family blog for posterity. This year, the fall got away from me and so I guess I'm writing you a New Year's letter instead. One letter for two boys, together. Forgive me.

It's actually kind of strange to be writing you a joint letter because, for the first time since Oli was born, you two have started in the last year to shed the "two-peas-in-a-pod" vibe that you've always had. I was hopeful in the fall that being at different schools would invigorate you both to define yourselves independently from your brother, and I can see that starting to happen in your friendships with each other and with other kids. But you've both struggled a bit to find your place at your schools this year. I spend a great deal of time most mornings explaining to you why the government insists on children attending school, and why I happen to agree with the government on that particular sticking point.

Jack, most of your complaints seem to center around being bored and with not being able to do whatever you want whenever you want. Specifically, the lack of challenging work and, more than anything, not being allowed to jump around manaically with your friends while screeching and rubbing their earlobes. While I am so surprised that school is not the fun and fulfilling experience I hoped it would be for you (yet), I can't say I am totally surprised that you are in a funk about the lack of earlobe rubbing at kindergarten. I promise you that I will be understanding and help you over the next months and years to define what your needs are and I will help you communicate those needs to your teacher so that you can grow to love school as much as I know you can. Please promise that you'll keep and open mind and keep trying.

Oli, most of your complaints seem to center around the fact that you just would really rather never leave our house under any circumstances if you can avoid it, no matter how much fun you will inevitably have out there in the big world. Maybe part of this is not having Jack around you enough, and maybe part of it is that I'm just such a spectacular housekeeper that our house is like heaven on Earth for you! Just kidding, we both know it's not the latter. I think you are just in that tricky stage of wanting with your whole being to be independent in every way, and needing equally badly just to hold the hand of someone who loves you all the time. In the last couple months, you have taken to screaming "I hate you, Mama!" many times a day; sometimes this pricks a bit, and sometimes it actually ends up being a bit comical. I know you don't hate me. I think maybe you want to be sure that no matter what you do or say, I will still come running when you need a hug or someone to wipe your butt. Baby, I will always come running for you.

The point being, gentlemen, that as you grow and develop your own personalities and give me glimpses of your future selves, I love you and cherish you each uniquely more than I could ever explain. Even though I am personally challenged by you, I'm grateful for it. I am learning so much right now about the kind of parent I want to be, and the truth is, I want to be better. For you. Not perfect, because everyone has vulnerabilites and I want you to know that about me so you won't be scared when you discover your own vulnerabilities. I just want you to know that I see you. Each of you. I respect who you are right now and I respect that you will grow and change and I will be right there with you as you figure out what kind of men you want to be. 

All my love,

Mama

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