About my son, the almost two-year old...

I don’t write that many posts about Melese. There are two reasons for this, I always feel like I am gushing when I write about him, and I really can’t come up with the right words to describe how much I love him. He is the person I am closest to. I spend my days with him. At night he sleeps right next to me, his little chest rising and falling, his tiny toes digging into my rib cage.

Cute, sweet, funny, smart, he is the ultimate baby, but he is not a baby anymore. He turns two on New Year's Day. I am grateful for every single minute I’ve been lucky enough to spend with him, (even the frustrating minutes when he is standing on the coffee table, throwing my Mac onto the ground).

I think about what he has been through in his short life, and my heart hurts for him. Like a turtle, he is resilient. 

Melese’s language developed slower than I thought it would, his super chatty sister rarely lets him get a word in edgewise. It has been a great joy to hear him speak new words. Months ago, we pulled into our driveway after running errands. I turned off the car and took a deep breath (because really, isn’t the car the most relaxing spot for a new parent? I mean a parked car with your children STRAPPED in safely? You know exactly where they are, and you can just rest for a moment). It was very quiet, I took a look at the front of our house and from the backseat I heard Melese say, “Home”. It was the first time he said the word. I looked at him and smiled, “Yes Melese, you are home.”

We have been going to Music Together classes. Melese, unlike all of the other kids in the class, wonders around during the songs. Occasionally he will make it back to the circle and plop down in my lap for a moment, but for the most part he likes to explore as he learns (something to remember when we begin to choose schools for him). Toward the end of the semester, during a song called, There’s a little wheel a turning in my heart, (we always substitute, “There’s a little boy Melese in my heart” when we sing it at home) Melese walked over, grabbed both of my hands, looked into my eyes and sang to me. It was the first time he really sang. Of course I began to cry because he was just so beautiful, and his voice was so sweet, and he was singing just to me.

Melese is extremely sensitive. He is empathetic. One of my saddest days with him was when we visited a friend who was having her hair done. Like almost every Ethiopian girl I know, this girl was crying while getting her braids. (Meazi cries every single time we do her hair, no matter what detangler, or conditioner we use). The cries of his friend were too much for Melese. He fell apart, completely. He was a mess for hours. It may have triggered something in him, but what it really felt like was empathy. He kept hugging and comforting his friend when her style was done. His big, gigantic, eyes still pooled with tears. 

People, Ethiopian women mostly, always tell me to cut his hair.
I cannot. Look at his curls! I will not. Yes, I know his name sounds like “Melissa,” and yes I know he is very pretty, and yes, folks think he is a girl, but I am not cutting his beautiful hair.

I know that he loves me, one of his other words is “Mommy,” or sometimes first thing in the morning when he wakes up and I am not there, “MAAAAAHHHHMAAAAAHH!!”

He is very affectionate. He loves both Steven and me. However, his person is still, and will always be…

His sister. She is it for him. She is his person. After we take her to school, every single time we leave the house between 8 and 2:30 he says, “Get Meazi?” When the blessed time finally arrives, we go and sit in the parking lot, waiting for her to come around the corner. The minute he sees her he bolts across the lot, running and shouting, “Meazi! Meazi Meazi!” He throws his arms around her eliciting a collective “Awwwww, from the teachers and other students.” It is, indeed an Awwww inducing moment. Meazi smiles and we trundle off to the car together, his posture showing a new relief that she is finally, at long last, back within arm's reach.

I could write one thousand posts about Melese, about what it means to me to be his mother. What a gift it is to be his mother. I hope I can say what I am going to say next without sounding like an entitled asshole. Here goes:

When you wait for something for so long, when you want something so much that the longing for it permeates every pore and fiber of your being, when you are a woman who wants, and tries for a baby for a full decade, to be given an opportunity to parent a baby, this baby, well, then you are humbled, and grateful, and really, really, happy.

On the day of our very last music class, the instructor played a lullaby on her guitar. Melese had been wandering around the room, not really paying too much attention. When the lullaby started he first sat in my lap, and then he got up and went around to each child in the class. He walked up to each one of them, gently reached out his hand and stroked their heads, one by one, around the circle. I cried again, as did some of the other moms. It was a moment as sweet as Melese himself.

Happy early Birthday my beautiful son. Being your mother has been the single most redemptive experience of my entire life. I love you.

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