I just ordered the cake, so I guess it's official....you're turning 1. I'm not sure how it happened. It was yesterday that I wrote Letter to my First-Born, and now here you are; this sweet, joyful little person who bounces his butt to Taylor Swift, is in love with a mangy stuffed bunny (named "bunny"), and laughs when people sneeze.
You don't know it yet, but things are about to change for you out in the world. In 9 short days, they'll call you a toddler, they'll give you the OK for regular milk, you'll have your first party. But me, I'll still be calling you baby, I'll still be nursing you, and while I will enthusiastically sing happy birthday to you at your party, all I'll be thinking about is the day you came to me a year ago on that snowy December night... the most peaceful, beautiful face I had ever seen, beaming with a light that hasn't ever gone out. I'm happy, of course, that you are growing, but if I'm expected to just let it happen without a fight, well, they don't know your mama (it's a proverbial "they", by the way; there is no specific evil force aside from Father Time at work here). I'm not there yet.
But, lucky for me, you're not 1 yet. So I can slow it down just a little before you're tossed out of babydom into the noisy, messy world of toddlerhood, just to savor that sweet baby essence a bit more, and to let you in on a little secret...at 11 months and 21 days, you already know pretty much everything you need to know. Sure, it'll be nice when you're over 3 ft tall and can say crazy ass stuff like your brother, but today, your heart and soul are already perfect. Blow out (or spit at) the candle, start drinking out of a sippy and running around, but really, please, for this mama's sake, don't actually change a thing. Especially these things.
- That smile -- when you smile, your whole face sparkles. I swear it does, ask anyone. You have some kind of innate radiance; you've had it from the minute you were born, and I only wish it could be bottled. Something, someday, will make you sad, I know (yes, something aside from us taking the shoes you want to lick away from you)...my wish is that you're always able to see the world through this same lens.
-You adore your brother, and he adores you. I know you'll fight one day over toys and friends and life (hopefully not about girls, please don't fight over that)....but my wish is the current open-mouthed kisses and chasing after him when he leaves the room is actively altering your DNA such that deep down, no matter what, you will always have each other's backs. He already advocates for you having 5 more minutes before your bedtime every night, so I can tell you that at 3, he already has yours.
-Your openness. I know you can't really complain much yet, but there's an ease about you. You already know how to go with the flow and adapt to change. I hope you always raise your hand when things are really important to you, but that you are also able to roll with the punches and be open to life's ebbs and flows.
-Your courage. Before you jump off a couch you hesitate and make sure there is some kind of support there, but then you jump - no holds barred. I love that. I hope you always jump when it feels right.
-Your affection. For me, for your daddy, for your brother, for that mangy bunny. You hug and kiss everything like you really mean it. People will tell you boys shouldn't be so sweet, but I can tell you that strongest men I know really are. Plus, girls dig it.
-Your passion. For food, for sports, for animals (ugh but the cat love may have to change)...whatever it is, you act with intention, you love with gusto. Please don't get lazy, please stay passionate and (for your mama's sake), please continue eating copious amounts of food.
So fine, I know I'll get over this whole birthday thing, and we will have so much fun when you can talk and sing and run like your brother. But in my heart, you will always be this perfect, sweet baby. And down the line, when we're seeing you off to college (or you're selling your multi-billion dollar start-up, that would be fine too), I hope I am still reminding you not to change these same things; that you will still know that how perfect you've always been in my eyes. Thank God you're not 18 yet.