A Tin Cup Birthday

Little (or not-so-little) Tom turned four on Saturday; we marked the day with lots of Cincy chili, a stack of presents from our family and friends, and a cake that I'd decorated to look like a hole on a golf course.

Why golf?

This summer's obsession with golf hasn't ebbed a bit. When Tom opened his presents and found not one, but two adjustable drivers for kids, he was over the moon.

Lately, he's been in a mid-winter golfer's funk. When we drove by our town's local public golf course a few weeks ago when snow blanketed everything, he nearly panicked.

"WHERE'S my golf course?!!" he hollered from the back seat.

"It's there," I reassured him. "Under the snow like everything else."

His little eyebrows furrowed into a knot of doubt, worry, and anger. I didn't have the heart to remind him that the golf course is techinically owned by the town and not by him alone.

He is a handful, my youngest little guy, and always has been.

We had a rough start together, some of the darkest days of my motherhood. Tom was a screamer, right from the beginning, and not a colicky screamer. No, he was of those I'm-here-so-I'm-gonna-scream-about-it babies; he screamed at such a high pitch that he literally would temporarily deafen me in my left ear when I held him on my left shoulder. I'd have to turn my head and shake air back into my ear canal (or shake the blood-curdling scream out, whichever way you want to look at it) to get my ear working again. 

Couple his screaming with the nastiest case of thrush I've ever experienced (him and me both - nothing makes a postpartum mom happier than weeks of fiery, burning boo*bs) and add to it the fun job of selling a house while caring for a 4.5 year old, an almost 3 year old, a screaming 7 week old, and two elderly dogs and you've got a recipe for a mommy breakdown.

That I survived 2006 is one of my personal moments of success as a mom; Knute spent ten months driving 140 miles roundtrip to his new job and I spent my days just keeping it all together at home. That I simply survived that year and didn't fully get to enjoy Tom's babyhood is one of my personal moments of disappointment.

Tom has grown into his big voice; he left the banshee screaming behind years ago and traded up for a deep and booming voice that still startles me at times when it comes out of his small body; it reminds me of my Knute's dad, now gone from us for 11 years. Tom snores like his grandpa did, too.

But he is so sweet and smart (if stubborn like a mule, a trait he comes by honestly from both sides of the family), and I'm glad we made it through the rough start we had together. I love him dearly and wouldn't change a hair on his head.

Happy birthday, Tom. You are a total blessing.

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