I can't believe we're here. You're three. You're really not a baby anymore, even though you'll always be MY baby. But when I look at how tall you're getting, and see you running around in big boy undies, and listen to your elaborate stories, I can't deny that you're becoming more of a big kid every single day. I keep thinking about how tiny you were three years ago tonight, and it blows my mind that we're here today. I think about the hairy little baby with the darker complexion that they laid on my chest the moment you were born; about the tiny, almost non-existent little butt that I wiped the first time you pooped; about that exhausting second night in the hospital where I had to send you to the nursery because I was too tired to hold you and too sore to nurse you again. I think back to the joy of bringing you home on time, on a day much like we had this weekend--cold and snowy--and how much I loved the entire seven weeks I was home with you. Nothing was better than being snuggled on the couch with my sweet little baby.
But then I think about how you were still a mystery to me back then. I loved you like crazy, but back before I saw your first smile or heard your first word, I had no way of knowing who you would be. And now I have the joy of knowing this silly, sweet kid who loves giving hugs and kisses. My world is a better place with you in it because you bring me so much joy! That's not to say we don't have our moments, as the past month or two has been a bit of a challenge as your stubborn side has definitely emerged. But we've seen worse before with your brother (sorry Jacob), so dealing with your difficult side has been pretty manageable. The two of you together are a force to be reckoned with, but hopefully we'll figure out a way to get through that and you two will come out of it as friends. I love that you two are finally playing together a little, but it's been quite a challenge to get you two to be civil to each other. You like to be a bit of a pest, and Jacob feels the need to dominate. He needs to chill out, and you need to learn to not provoke him unnecessarily. That will come in time.
Right now I just love watching you learn about the world. You always surprise me with what you notice and what connections you make. You have a funny little sense of humor and your smile and laugh make my day. Unlike your brother who was all sports, all the time, you like a little of everything--cars and trucks, superheroes, your pretend food, Paw Patrol and Team Umizoomi, and yes, sports, too! You jump from activity to activity, and it's hard to keep up! I worry sometimes that we've turned you into a TV addict just because that's the only time we can get you to slow down and snuggle!
You're very independent and like to do everything yourself, whether it's getting into your high chair or car seat, or pulling down your pants to pee or getting on the stool to wash your hands. You probably use utensils better than your brother (ugh) and you really like to be clean, just like Daddy did as a kid. You got my eyes and my short stature (sorry), but I definitely see Daddy in you, too. You are definitely his little buddy, but I love that you're still a mama's boy sometimes, too. You made me love being a mom again. I was tired of yelling and tired of being unsure of myself after some rough years with your brother, and you assured me that I wasn't entirely terrible at this mom thing. Your politeness and loving ways are proof that we've done something right. I melt every time you tell me you love me. I feel so lucky to have you in my life. As much as I need kid-free time sometimes, I know it comes at a price--that I won't have all your smiles and laughs to brighten my day.
I'm so sad that your strep throat stole some of the fun from your day today, but I am so happy you liked your gifts and had fun playing with them while you were home today. Hopefully we can celebrate more once you're feeling better. You deserve to enjoy your big day and I'm sad that sickness stole even a moment of that.
I've learned over the past three years that I need to savor every moment of your childhood because it's my last chance to experience these stages. I've also learned that one of my biggest challenges is going to be getting you through these stages and then letting them go. I see myself holding on to little things--toys, clothes, helping you--because I hate to see each stage end. I know that it means that eventually you'll need me less and less, and all of the hugs and kisses and snuggles I love right now will fade into big boy embarrassment and independence. And unlike with your brother, I won't have another chance to experience it again. Don't let me hold you back, but if you can, keep in mind how much your mama loves you and maybe "throw me a bone" once in a while.
But for now, you're three. You haven't left me behind yet. You still give me kisses and hugs, and you're still my baby (once in a while). I will enjoy the funny things you say, and smile as you learn something new. I can't wait to see what you learn and do in this next year. I'm so proud of the big boy you've become, and I'm happy we get a do-over for this birthday in a couple weeks. You deserve another shot...and I might just need these weeks to accept you're really three! I love you so much, buddy. Thank you for being my sweet boy.