I get so nostalgic around birthday time, and my thirst for memorabilia only accentuates this nostalgia. Last week, I felt pulled to my Shutterfly books, to old blog posts, to that silly Facebook memories app that brings me back to the day you were born, the day we showed your sweet wrinkly face to the world and introduced you as Cruz Bennett Jorgensen, born exactly one week late on October 12, 2010, weighing in at a perfect 8 pounds and 21.5 inches long. Sometimes, it's hard to remember those moments and days that followed after becoming your mom, and I worry that those memories have all faded into this big blur of happy, crazy, busy, wonderful years of giving our all to raising you the best we can; however, when I give into those rare moments to stop, reflect, and get lost in these pictures and stories of you, it's amazing how so many images and vivid snapshots reappear as if they happened yesterday.
This picture is epic. He's ALIVE!!!
I remember waking up in the middle of the night to that first real contraction, the first moment I realized, this is it. Beau wasn't in bed beside me, and I went to find him on the couch. He was tossing and turning and was afraid he would wake me up, so he went to the basement to sleep. I sat on the edge of the couch and whispered to him, babe, I think I'm in labor but everything's alright. Just go back to sleep.
Even as I type those words five years later, I realize how ridiculous that request was! Beau immediately shot up and asked if I was ready to go. And then he proceeded to pace for the next two hours while I tried to be patient, time the contractions, put some final things in my bag, and of course, do my makeup. :)
I remember eating a half a bowl of cereal and finding that my tummy was too unsettled to finish. I remember driving to the hospital in the dark, feeling like the only two (well, three) people awake in the universe. I remember walking for two hours with Beau and the made up games we invented to pass the time. I remember those terrible socks with rubber on the bottom, the socks I felt ridiculous in but still to this day cannot part with because they always make me smile. And I remember how slow the day started and how quickly it all changed when Dr. Hines smiled and said, we are ready to have this baby." You were born at 3:28 pm, and you were perfect.
I vividly remember our very first Friday night at home with you. Our friends, Mike and Donna, taught me the art of being a new baby visitor, as they stopped very briefly to hug us, peak at you in your swing, then get out of our way, leaving us a four course home-cooked meal of fresh bread, lasagna, salad, and a bottle of vino on our kitchen counter. I remember how comforting that food tasted, how I wanted to slow down and enjoy every bite, yet I ate with this newfound feeling of nervousness, just waiting for you to wake up from your sleep. I remember how clean the house was, how the swing made that swish swish click sound, and how serious your little face looked as you slept. I remember the edigness and peace I felt all at the same time, feeling as if we were lost in our own little universe with this helpless little human, completely dependent on us. It was scary and surreal, overwhelming and amazing.
I think about those moments that feel like yesterday, and then stare at you and can't believe it's been five years since those first days of figuring out how to be a mom. All those ladies in the grocery store aisles, who watch as I try my best to keep you from falling out of the cart, to point you to a granola bar instead of a candy bar, to smile through my impatience as Mila fights to swipe my card through the debit machine, the ones who tell me the years go by so fast and I half listen and half roll my eyes, I know deep down they are right. That every year, I watch you get a little bit bigger, a little bit smarter, and a little bit more independent, and I know that someday, you won't need me the way you need me now. These years go by in the blink of an eye, and in this case, in your very big brown eyes.
This birthday is perhaps more emotional than years past, because I feel like your baby years are nearly gone and I'd be lying if I said that didn't break my heart a little. But the boy who has emerged is one I am so proud of and can't get enough of. It's pretty amazing to have a front row seat to watching you grow into this handsome, smart, creative, and spirited little person who brings so much joy to our family.
I wish I could bottle up all my favorite things about you at five and store them on a shelf that I could revisit any time I wanted to. In the bottle, I'd include this transition you seem to be in, where one day you act like a grown up and leave your daddy and I shaking our heads and mouthing the words "where did he get this?" behind your back, and the next day, you are a wild, stubborn little boy who tests the boundaries to see how close to the edge you can get. I'd pour in the bottle those first few weeks after starting in Mrs. W's room, how polite, calm, and grown up you talked and acted, how you developed a quick love of the writing center and worked on your letters every night at the kitchen table. I'd bottle up your look of concentration as you learned to hold your pencil the right way, finish your little 'u' with a perfectly straight tail, and learn to write your 'zs' the right way. I'd bottle up the first time you asked me how to spell a word and went to your paper and wrote every letter it included and when I asked you how you learned to do that you replied, "I just use my brain to do it." I'd throw in all your little letters, your drawings of our family found in your cubbie every night, and the ones you often want to bring to show Mrs. W.
I'd include your heart for Jesus, your breadth of knowledge of all the bible stories, and your innocent, unyeilding faith in heaven. I'd include your suppertime prayers that include things like "Pless our mommies, pless our daddies, pless everyone." I'd include our bedtime routine, your love of chapter books, and how you always curl up with your head on my shoulder as you listen to the words and always add your two cents at the end. I'd pour in a good amount of cozy, as you have seemed to latch on to my deep love of the word, always requesting extra blankets, cozy pants, and sleeping bag movie nights on a Friday night. And I'd include your sweetness with your little sister, how you lean in to kiss her or nuzzle her belly (even when she pushes you away), and often seek to make her happy by sharing a snack or giving her something you were playing with in the car. There isn't too much you get worked up about, something I've always loved about you.
Mixed in with this concoction of smarts, sweets, and all things cozy, there'd be lots of color, too, for your wild imagination and stubborn ways. You've always been so good at playing, creating imaginative worlds with any kind of toy and getting lost in your own little world of superheroes, race cars, building blocks, or crayons. Sometimes, it takes a bit of coaxing to get you to enter this world, but once you're in, magic ensues. And of course, it wouldn't be a bottle of five without a little stubborn to include, specifically at the dinner table where you play quite a game of stand off when it comes to trying new foods, especially vegetables. Except the green beans shaped like a one. :)
I'd finish your bottle off with all the good things - with Uptown Funk and Pharrell's Happy because you're always game for a dance party, with banana bread and a plastic tub of chocolate chips cookies from Casey's, with cozy pants and movie nights, and a glass of milk and good snuggle before bed. And of course, those big brown eyes of yours, the way they stare right through you and light up when you tell a story or listen to one of ours. You're a story-teller, especially when it comes to Halloween stories and superheroes.
Happy fifth birthday to you, Cruz. It's been five years of wonderful with you in this world and I am so very blessed to be your mommy.
**I took these pictures one late August night, shortly after Cruz's baseball season commenced. It was a sweet night, just me and him on the baseball field, with ice cream to follow. He's a photogenic boy, with so many expressions in those eyes of his. If only I could bottle up every one of them.