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The End of My Toddler-Mance

Photograph by Twenty20

It’s not you, it’s me. No one told me that I’d have to end it so soon. Or that it would hurt so bad. Our three-year romance. A romance that began when they threw you like a slippery porpoise on to my chest and you let out the tiniest sigh. Like you knew you were home. And I sang “Purple Rain” to you right in the delivery room because that was what came to me in the drug-induced moment. Something about a tiny, purple man in heels seemed right up your alley.

It’s so hard to say goodbye to “us” because I remember every detail of our relationship. Like how you used to say “straw-foo” for strawberry and run in front of the fan, pretending to be a pilot. How every morning you used to hug the trees and shout “good morning, trees!” I remember how you named all your trains “Abbot,” until we realized that you were saying “All Aboard.” I remember every zoo trip, ice cream run and raspberry on your fat tummy. Sometimes it feels like you are a ghost floating by, reminding me that it’s over. I can’t seem to reach out and touch that intangible thing that we had. That feeling that we had as a duo—the magical bonfire that burned between us—is no more. Now, when I look at you in the rearview mirror, I see a grown boy.

When we play hide-and-seek and you 'hide' by laying in front of your bed, I won’t be able to pretend that I don’t see you for 10 minutes. I don’t want it to change.

I must end this because I’ve met someone else. A boy with a full head of hair and a demanding appetite that requires milk every two hours. I won’t be able to crawl in bed with you every night and say goodnight to your bears, the fan and the refrigerator.

When we play hide-and-seek and you “hide” by laying in front of your bed, I won’t be able to pretend that I don’t see you for 10 minutes. I don’t want it to change. I miss you so much, even when you’re standing right in front of me. Please, please, don’t let things change.

But they already have. You already have. I just didn’t see the shift. It was happening every time we discussed whether we should decorate the nursery with pirates or cars. When you touched my growing watermelon—because Mommy was pregnant again—and told me my stomach was broken forever. When you discovered that pregnancy equaled secret treats for us and discoveries like “Mack-Donald’s,” your new favorite restaurant. You were way ahead of me. And you were already letting go of the baby you. I just didn’t see it.

Now I see a new side of you: big brother. I get to see you smile at the baby and tell me how excited you are for him to like Mario as much as you do when he’s a big guy. Now, we all do a puppet show for the baby and when you hold him, I can just hear the speech you’re giving at his wedding, ‘cause you’re the best man.

It’s not you, it’s me. I’m the one that has to let go. You already have. So, goodbye, my first love. I’m still gonna crawl into your bunk bed and say goodnight to the fan—even when you’re in college.

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