Tuesday, March 22, 2022


Dear Elliot,

Tomorrow you're 10. Double digits! A whole decade old! There's this saying that literally every new mom has heard at least 50 times: "the days are long but the years are short." I used to smile and nod and sometimes roll my eyes at the cliche, but turns out there's a reason it's repeated so often--it's true. When you were a baby I used to try to imagine what you'd be like as a big kid and the thought was just unfathomable. And now here you are--this smart, sarcastic, inquisitive, video-game loving, hockey-playing 10 year old with feet bigger than mine and an attitude to match. 

As you celebrate turning 10 years old,  I'll be celebrating 10 years of being a mom. I feel like when you hit 10 years of doing anything, you are basically considered an expert at it. I mean, if someone tells me they've been a doctor for 10 years, I'd trust them to prescribe me some meds. If someone tells me they've been a pilot for 10 years, I'd let them fly me in an airplane. Being a mom is weird though. No matter how long you do it, you never feel like you have it mastered. 

I've been looking through old blog posts and pictures from your first couple years of life (and my first couple years as a mom), and these words I wrote when you were just a few months old really stood out to me:

"...I look at you during those times and feel both completely filled with love, and completely inadequate. Or maybe insecure is a better word? You're just so amazing, so perfect, and I'm afraid I won't be able to give you everything you need; everything you deserve. Being your mom is the single most incredible thing that has ever happened to me, but honestly--it's also the scariest.

Sometimes it seems like no matter how many parenting books I read, how many hours of tummy time I make you have, how many stimulating activities I plan, how many well-written and age-appropriate books I read to you, how many quality toys I buy you, or how many cuddles, kisses, and 'I love you's' I give you each day, I always feel like I should be doing something more. Something better.

I'll come across things like '56 sensory play ideas for babies' and feel like I need to hurry up and do all 56 things. Like now. Seriously, the other night I saw something that mentioned how much babies like bubbles and almost had a meltdown thinking what kind of horrible mom I am to have been depriving my kid of the joy of bubbles for all this time. I may have even grabbed for my phone in a panic and set a 'BUY BUBBLES!!!!' reminder for the very next morning.

Maybe it's the perfectionist in me. Maybe it's that I just love you so freaking much. Probably both. But that desire to do everything 'right' is so overwhelming sometimes. The logical part of my mind knows I'm being silly, that I'm a great mom, that a lack of bubble play isn't going to somehow stunt your growth and development, that I'm doing the best I can. But there's always that annoying little voice in the back of my head that whispers, "what if your best isn't good enough?"

I read that now, as a much older, much wiser and much more mature seasoned mom of three and think, "phew, thank God I never feel like that anymore!"

JUST KIDDING. I still feel that way all the time! I've just moved from worrying about bubbles to worrying about screen time and school bullies and how I can get you to shower on a regular basis.

You're still growing and I'm still learning. I know I haven't done everything right, but looking at the 10 year old kid you've turned out to be gives me confidence that I must not have done it all wrong either. 

We're bonded forever, you and me. As the oldest kid, you're the only one that had true one-on-one time, all the time. Those early days where you were (literally) attached to me all the time are days that I will remember and treasure for the rest of my life. No matter how often you annoy me, no matter how often I annoy you, no matter how many times I scream "TURN OFF THE IPAD AND GET YOUR SHOES ON", that special time, that special bond, will always be ours. 

When I look at pictures from 10 years ago, I see a baby-faced (seriously, I get now why people were always asking if I was the nanny!) clueless young mom who is clearly completely and utterly obsessed with her baby boy. 

Today I see a mom with a few more wrinkles on her face--still clueless, still completely and utterly obsessed with her baby boy.

I am so proud of you and the person you are turning out to be. Keep asking questions, keep telling jokes, keep trying new things, keep being a good friend and a goofy dancer. But you're gonna have to figure out the showering thing before you turn 11!

Happy birthday. 


Thursday, May 7, 2020

10 Years

Dear Stevie,
10 years ago, I wanted the world to stop. I said it out loud and in my head over and over again, "how is the world still turning when my baby is dead?"

You were born on a Saturday, and the next day, my first day back at home, was Mother's Day. It was a beautiful sunny day, the kind of summer-like day people in Minnesota live for after a long winter. And for the first time in my life, I just wished it would rain, or snow, anything to better match the indescribable sadness that consumed me.

I shut myself in the house. I sat on the couch and stared blankly at the TV, half watching hundreds of Law and Order SVU episodes I had already seen until it was time for bed. In my house, on my couch I could pretend that the rest of the world had stopped the moment mine did.

And now here we are, a decade later, and it kind of has. Quarantined at home, on my couch, watching too much mindless TV. It's ironic, maybe even fitting that your 10 year "birthday" would take place as the world is all but shut down. 

A few weeks after you died, my mom and dad bought me this black lounge chair and set it up on the deck outside our townhouse. They knew I loved laying in the sun and thought it might get me to leave the living room. I couldn't do it right away, but eventually I got brave enough to open the sliding glass door and step outside. The warm sun on my face was therapeutic, more healing than any of the books or articles on grief I had been sent. My heart felt cold and dead, but the sun, it started to help me thaw. 

I ended up spending hours a day on that chair. One day, I felt strong enough to venture off the deck for a walk around the block, then to Target. Finally I began the slow process of learning to fully live in a world without you in it.

I still have that black lounge chair. It now sits out in our backyard sandwiched between the trampoline and swing set your brothers and sister play on. I probably should have upgraded by now, but it reminds me of you. It's like a weird symbol of that defining time in my life. Of the sadness, yes, but also of the strength I found within myself. Of the sun, literally and figuratively. 

"And in my hour of darkness, there is still a light that shines on me." Those song lyrics got me through then, and they are getting me through this strange and trying time now. One thing you have taught me is that things will get better. They might not get perfect, they might not be how we had planned, but they will get better. The rain and the snow will eventually give way to warm sunshine again.

10 years. I don't even know what to say. It's a chaotic beautiful life we live here without you, but I sure wish you were around to make it a little more chaotic and a lot more beautiful.

Forever my firstborn. 


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Good Golly...

...Miss Molly!

Excited to announce this beautiful little girl joined our family on May 16th, weighing in at 7 pounds, 15 ounces, 20.5 inches long. A nearly exact replica of her older brother.

Molly Jean Cook, 1 week old

I'll write up the whole birth story later, but she came super fast! Water was broken at 9:45; little MJ was in my arms at 11:35. Big bro Elliot is adjusting well--not super interested in her so far, but doesn't seem to mind her too much, either :)

I feel beyond lucky and blessed to call these two mine; just wish their big sister was here with us too. 

Write more soon!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

2 Years Old!

Dear Elliot,
Happy 2nd birthday! I cannot believe it's been two years since you came into this world and brought so much fun, laughter, chaos, and pure joy into our lives.

You've had a larger than life personality since you were just a little baby, but over the last six months you've really developed a mind and spirit of your own. 

When you get into something, you really get into something. Right now that something is superheroes. It started with Batman, then Superman, and has since expanded to include every superhero in the galaxy, both the well-known and the weirdly obscure. You have a collection of "guys" that we've been acquiring from Goodwill and other various thrift stores, and you are obsessed with lining them all up just how you like them.

And speaking of obsessed? Let's talk about your obsession with costumes. You absolutely love to dress up. Most mornings you wake up asking to put on one of your superhero outfits. Your grandma got you some off-season clearance Halloween costumes for Christmas, and we've since gotten a few more, and you insist on wearing one of them (or some combo of a few of them!) pretty much every day. In public, like wherever we go. I figure if it makes you happy, why not? 

You started sleeping in a "big boy" bed about two months ago. I was super nervous about the big transition and was really worried it was going to mess up the great sleep habits you finally had down, but you did awesome. Probably helped that you got to go from crib to your very own Batmobile! 

Your dad wrote more about making your bed here.

Since you're such a big boy now, you've been talking more and more like a big kid too. It's so much fun watching you go from one and two word phrases to speaking in simple "sentences." You still have some pretty funny pronunciations for some words (ie: cuddle is "cuckle," good is "doog," Captain America is "caca caca" etc), which I find absolutely adorable and almost hope you never correct. 

I love walking through the store with you and seeing your face light up every two seconds as you see things you recognize and shout out their names. "Blue bike!" "Yellow soap!" "New book!" Or my personal favorite: every time we leave Target and pass the red ball sculptures they have outside, "Bye, big balls!" (I'm so mature, haha).

You still have a great love of books. You'll sit and read with us for pretty much as long as we'll keep reading. You have almost memorized some of the books we read the most often and will say the words out lout as we read. Reading by yourself is also one of the few activities you'll sit quietly and do for long periods of time. Sometimes I pick you up from school and find you just sitting contently with a pile of books. It makes English major's heart incredibly happy. 

You've been going to school two mornings a week and you absolutely love it. We go through one of the school districts nearby that offers block time daycare, which works really great for my fulltime work-from-home schedule. You recently moved up to the "older toddler" room and are loving all the crafts and songs and more structured activities they do with you. Many mornings I'll ask you "what should we do today?" and you exclaim, "school!"

Your teachers are always talking about what a "busy" boy you are--and it's true! You are definitely high energy! I literally can't even remember the last time we used a stroller because you like to walk (or run) everywhere. You love going to parks (lately it's been all the indoor parks around town) and climbing around with all the big kids. You are fearless. There isn't staircase too steep, a slide too long, a tunnel too scary that you won't attempt it. I adore your sense of adventure but man, you've definitely given me more than a few near heart attacks!

I feel like I could just go on and on and this fun stage of life you're in right now. I could also go on and on about the not-so-fun parts (like the picky eating, the tantrums, the "please use your gentle hands" phrase I have to say at least 3493948398 times a day), but really, truly, even with the challenges that come with raising a toddler, I couldn't be happier. And I couldn't possibly love you more. 

Happy birthday, baby boy! Can't wait to celebrate later this afternoon!

All my love,

Monday, September 23, 2013

18 Months

Dear Elliot,
Today you are 18 months old -- a year and a half! I am way overdue for an official update post, but instead, I think I'll just tell you some things I am loving about you right now.

I love your spunk, your spirit, how full you are of life. I love the pure joy you find in the littlest things, and how you just let it show. I love how you will randomly start laughing to yourself, like you just discovered something hilarious that nobody else even knows about.

I love how you start dancing the second you hear music -- doesn't matter if it's one of Dad's records, the radio in the car, a song playing in a store, or just the simple tune coming from one of your toys. I love how if we're at a concert, you run straight to the front the of the stage and go crazy (and I love how you're always looking around to make sure you have an audience!)

I love how you wake up every morning talking about dinosaurs. I love how you can spot every last dino toy, no matter how far back on the shelf it might be hidden, when we go thrifting at Goodwill. I love that you know the difference between at T-Rex and a Pterodactyl, and I especially love the squawking noise you make for the latter.

I love your love of books. I love how you'll sit in the car and study each page of your books like you are actually reading the words on the pages. I love when you come running up to me with a book and plop down in my lap so we can read it together. I love that there have been nights where I've watched you fall asleep signing "more" after bedtime stories.

I love your sense of adventure, your bravery, your willingness to try new things. I love that when we go to the park you find the biggest, fastest slide and attempt to go down it all by yourself. I love how much you like rides. I love that when you fall, you brush yourself right off and keep going. I love your determination. 

I love how social you are. I love that you turn around in the cart to smile and wave and flirt with random people at the store. I love that you go right up to other kids (usually the older kids) and try to play with them. I love that you blow kisses to strangers and I love that sad face you get when you notice someone else is sad.

I love your energy. I love that you run so much I think you've literally forgotten how to walk. I love how you squeal with delight and flap your arms around when you have an open space to move in. I love how we never use a stroller because you are so good at keeping up with us on foot. I love that you keep me active and that I go to bed feeling like I've run a marathon each day. 

I love your sense of wonder. I love that a stick or a rock can make your eyes light up with joy. I love that digging your bare feet into a pile of dirt can make your day. I love that you want to know how things work. I love that when I take you to places like the Children's Museum or the zoo, you love it so much you don't even know what to do with yourself.

I love your sweetness. I love how I can say "mama needs a kiss" and you'll stop what you're doing and come running up to me with puckered lips. I love how you hug and rock your babies, and how you share bites of your breakfast with your dinos. I love how you like to go through my wallet, find my driver's license, point to my picture and say "mama! Mama!"

I love your independence. I love that you run off do your thing at the park or playground. But I also love how every few minutes you look around to make sure you can see me then give me a smile and a quick wave before resuming your play. I love that every now and then, you still hold up your hand for me to hold while we're walking. I love those moments when you're really sleepy and all you want to do is lay your head on my shoulder and cuddle. 

I love that your my son. I love that I'm your mom.

I love you, I love you, I love you. Happy 18 months!


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