How are we here? How is it possible that my tiny little baby is now a real big kid? I don't know where the time went, but it needs to slow down a little because you're my last little boy and I don't want your hugs and kisses and general cuteness to fade away anytime soon!
You're now officially as old as your brother was when I got pregnant with you, and that is blowing my mind. It seems like Jacob had been around forever at that point. We'd been considering another baby for a while, and even once we decided to go for it, it took an extra year or so for it to actually happen. And by then it was Jacob's 4th birthday and I still didn't know for sure if you were going to be a reality. A week later we got confirmation, and on we went. I hope someday you take the time to read the letters I wrote to you back then, before we even knew you. You can start here. Anyway, I can't believe that if we had another baby now (we're not!) they'd be the same distance from you that you and Jacob are. I do hope you'd respond to it better, but who knows? You were asking the other day for a sister, though eventually you clarified that you wanted a big sister. Can't really help you there, but I thought it was sweet. I think you probably would have been a wonderful big brother, and I'm a little sad that the stars couldn't align to make that happen. But you were the perfect way to finish off our family, and I can't believe you've been around four years now!
After three absolutely sweet years, this past one was a little tough. You gained a temper and a bit of an attitude. Somehow my sweet baby boy ended up being the kid at daycare with the behavior chart. At home, your brother finally decided maybe he wanted to play with you, but that led to you two battling more than playing, which led to you developing a bit of a rough style of play. I'm sure that didn't help the daycare situation. You definitely started to express your opinions and you gained a lot of independence, which hasn't always been easy when we're already balancing your brother's very specific preferences. You have been a handful, but where your brother never responded to conventional advice on dealing with tantrums and attitude, you've been a lot more cooperative, even if it takes a little extra time and effort to get you there. And eventually my sweet boy comes back and gives me hugs and kisses and an "I love you, Mommy." I will never get enough of that.
Part of what makes you a handful these days is that you are always full speed ahead. You love to run, every chance you get. You can't wait for spring to get outside and run, and any wide open space inside is immediately utilized for a top speed run, even if you shouldn't! You love to race, and it's often the only way to get you up the stairs at bedtime! The one thing that can get you to slow down is the TV. For better or worse, you love watching TV. Team Umizoomi still seems to be your favorite, but you still enjoy old favorites like Paw Patrol, PJ Masks and Bubble Guppies. In the last few months you've checked out almost every show on the Roku in Mommy and Daddy's room, and now you like the Justice League and Transformers Rescue Bots, along with Mike the Knight, Maya the Bee, Jungle Bunch, and the Floogals. You love them all. Apparently your apple didn't fall far from Mama's tree...sorry about that. I want you to play more, but sometimes it's nice to shift your speed down to slow and snuggle up for a little bit. You always want to watch a show in our room, and on Saturday mornings it's a welcome way to spend a little more time in bed.
You upgraded to a big boy bedroom this year--a big boy bed, new furniture, and new superhero decorations on your walls. It doesn't seem like that long ago that we had the room painted blue and were setting up the crib, but here we are four years later with all of the baby equipment and decorations packed away for good. Baby toys are slowly but surely following suit, and we've worked our way through most of the bins of clothes in the basement! It's so hard to believe how far you've come. Just yesterday morning your teacher was telling me how ready you are to move up to the four-year-old room at daycare. You've made such progress on your numbers and letters, and you really seem to enjoy books, too. You love to tell stories and use your imagination to tell us about monsters or animals or what your friends do at daycare. Some of your stories are so silly, and most of the time you just want to make people laugh. Your brother is often a willing participant, which usually sets both of you off on a quest to one-up each other. It gets a little out of control at the dinner table sometimes, that's for sure.
I still marvel at the crazy day we had when you were born--my water breaking at work, our split second decision to skip the doctor and go right to the hospital, the random neighborhood incident that almost kept Grandma and Grandpa stuck at home when I called them, having to send Lori to our house to grab my half-packed suitcase and my camera and computer--because I wasn't going to miss documenting one moment of your first couple days of life. I told you this morning how we weren't even sure of your name until right before you were born, and I explained that your middle name was in honor of Grandpa. I left out that we settled on the middle name choice after a lacrosse player with the same name scored a ton of points that night. We took it as a sign. It was such a crazy day and exhausting night, but it was worth it all to have you here. I had no idea what a joy you would truly be in our lives.
Last night I snuggled with you at bedtime, to savor the last time I'd put you to bed as a three-year-old. Sometimes you say you want to be a baby again, and last night you tried laying on me after I said you used to sleep on my chest all the time. You're a lot bigger now, and I could hardly believe that as you laid your head on my chest, your legs extended at least to the middle of my shins! All curled up as a newborn you barely made it to my waist! You have officially doubled in height since you were born, and I know it's only going to get crazier from here. Heck, your brother will probably pass me within a few years, and you won't be that far behind!
I definitely get a little sad thinking about how fast you're growing, and how quickly you're going to outgrow this fun kid stage you're in now. The baby stuff was hard, but the kid stuff feels worse because so much of it has been a part of watching you and your little personality develop. When that stuff fades away, I worry I'll feel like I won't know you as well. By then, so much of your "stuff" will be internalized and you'll be a bit more of a mystery to me, all over again. I worry you won't want to hug or hang out with me anymore. I know it's all a part of growing up and gaining independence, but I guess I'm not ready to feel like that phase is so close for my baby. Kindergarten is only a year and a half away, and it seems like not that long ago we were sending your brother off. Knowing how quickly that time has flown, I know now how quickly your time will come. I'm so proud of the little boy you are and so look forward to seeing you grow and learn in the years to come. But a little bit of me will always miss my baby with the chubby cheeks and the irresistible smile!
Happy Birthday Carter! Keep smiling and learning and loving, and the rest will fall into place.
Mommy (and Daddy, too!)