Monday, January 5, 2009

Leo Gabriel Carter

Photos: Leo as a newborn babe; Leo's namesake, Leo Vanoni; and Leo at age 2, stark naked and playing in the cradle made by his Grandpa Seehaver...(he was supposed to be getting ready for the bath, and this is where I found him!)

January 5, 2007 - it has been two years since the beautiful birth of a beautiful boy. Leo arrived (nearly) on time; I delivered Leo unmedicated and with the support of my incredible midwife and husband; and it was the most glorious birth experience a mother could hope to have. I savor the memories of that day.

When I found out we were having "another" boy, part of me worried that everyone would assume that the brothers were the same, just another Carter boy, not really different from each other. I worried that they would look so much alike that everyone would simply assume that Leo was a clone of Aidan, in personality as well as in looks. I worried that Aidan would overshadow Leo, simply by virtue of being the older brother.

Leo and Aidan have both proven me wrong, in nearly every way. Both boys are sweet, good-natured, smart, and funny. Both boys are utterly adorable (yet each in his own way). Of course, they both enjoy many of the same activities and interests. But as they have each gotten older, I am continually amazed at how unique and different they are from one another. It's as if they are saying, "I love being a lot like you, but here are all the ways I'm different, too."

Leo is named in honor of his great-grandfather, Leo Vanoni, or "Uncle Leo" as almost everyone on the West Coast affectionately calls him. Leo Vanoni is a small man with an enormous personality, an enormous heart, a man who has made an enormous impact on the lives of many people. I fell in love with Leo Vanoni the first time I met him, and was nearly as honored to have a son with the same name as he seems to feel about having a namesake.

I can think of a thousand adjectives to describe Leo, and yet all of them together do not add up adequately enough to describe the amazing person that he is, and is becoming. Leo is fiercely independent. Recently we've figured out a trick - when Leo insists "Me! Me!", meaning "I will do it myself!!!" when it comes to an impossibly challenging task for a two year old to accomplish independently, gently we say "Yes, Leo, you are putting on your shoes and tying them all by yourself. What a good job you are doing!" Usually, this is enough for him to maintain his air of independence. Leo is a tiny thing, comparatively speaking - average height for his age, and on the lower percentage for his weight (his pediatrician once described him as having "the physique of a surfer.") Yet this kid is likely a future linebacker or bar bouncer; he tackles everyone with a huge grin on his face and the determination of a beaver wanting to take down a Redwood tree. He is so "physical;" he can already jump off the ground with two feet or up onto a curb; he loves to play ball of any kind; and he always prefers sitting in a lap over sitting anywhere else. Leo is loud! Leo is wild! Leo is so, so happy! Unless, of course, his independence has been hindered, at which point he throws himself to the floor in a dramatic flourish, curling into a ball and sobbing...

When Leo was first born, and people would ask what it was like to have two kids now instead of just one, I answered, "It's twice as good." In those two years, "twice as good" seems to have grown exponentially for me in a way that is now unquantifiable. I cannot imagine our lives without Aidan Paul; I cannot imagine our lives without Leo Gabriel; and most of all, I cannot imagine our lives without the richness, the fullness, the love that they inspire as brothers and sons and members of this family.

Happy Birthday, Leo Gabriel Carter!

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