You are suddenly a boy, all traces of the baby and toddler have vanished, except that you still like a hug and to snuggle from time to time, which is good, because I still need them too. Your wrists no longer have that little baby crease in them. You are strong and lean, your body ripples with muscles; you have no baby fat left.
I watched you on Sunday when we went out for lunch with friends and family. You sat over at the kid’s table with the other boys, you ate an entire In’n’Out cheeseburger, with nothing on it but cheese of course, and still had room for fries. You were independent and confident, and I was so glad the one moment you remembered me and ran over because you wanted a hug. You are growing up so fast.
I love watching you as you gain even more physical prowess. You ride your bike, you do flips, no hands, on my bed and on the trampoline, and you can cartwheel, and roll. You can climb to very high places very fast. You are a fast runner, and you have managed to hurt your grown-up uncles in wrestling matches. You are very strong inside and out. You are quick to protect your friends and family. The other day daddy warned some of your new neighborhood friends, who are older and bigger than you, that if they started playing rough games with you they might get hurt. He was worried that you might be too rough for them if things got started, because you are so used to rough play with your uncles and the sparring from Judo. He also told you that you could play rough with them if they started it, because he knows that you wouldn’t have unless he gave you permission. You are disciplined already. You would run away or let them hurt you rather than break the rules you have learned, and daddy doesn’t want you to get hurt.
You are deep into pretend. Often I have a snarling lion or dinosaur in my house instead of a boy. You have sweetly consented recently to being a horsy, and giving your sister rides everywhere as she calls you horsy, horsy, horsy. You love loud, rambunctious play. You can also sit for hours now looking at books, or building with Lego, the wild boy inside of you has begun to settle a little bit as you grow up. You are no longer nonstop action.
You are very serious often. You remind me of your daddy the way you MUST UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING. You chase down every detail, every loose end must be examined and tied up. I don’t know the answers to many of your questions, but that’s not good enough for you. You ask them again and again, you don’t even bother to rephrase, just like daddy, demanding a different answer, one that is better informed and satisfies your curiosity. I know that you will be one day thinking of things no one else thought of yet, that your mind is truly unique.
You have grown compassionate and thoughtful. Emotionally you have matured way beyond the demanding and rebellious toddler I have known the past few years. In just the past several months, you have become like a little man, you are sunny and helpful, and kind. I am blessed to watch you change in this way. You are so confused when you run to help your little sister do something, and she yells and turns on you and demands that she wants to do it herself. You have reveled in your role as her big brother, her helper, her protector, and as she becomes more independent and needs to learn to do things alone I can see that it hurts you. It’s so hard for you to let go and let her do it. Just as it’s hard for you to let her go on thinking something inaccurate, however loud the argument must become in order to convince her she’s wrong. You are still learning to let her pretend and not insist on accuracy all of the time. She still needs you my boy; she will always need her older brother’s love and care. You are too young to be learning that sometimes to love you have to let go a little, but you are learning it anyway, and I am proud of you my son.
When you were a brand new baby I couldn’t take my eyes off of you. I would lie next to you on the bed as you slept and just stare. Sometimes I would cry, just because you were so perfect and beautiful. Before you I slept next to your daddy’s back, with my arm around him. After you were born I couldn’t turn my back on you. It felt wrong in such a deep way to roll over and not be facing you as I slept.
You are my first child. I will constantly be learning with you how to be a parent. I pray that I won’t make too many mistakes, but mostly that I will help you to have the tools to deal with them when I inevitably do. I remember the nights when we both cried, because I didn’t know how to help you, and you would cry and cry while I walked around with you in my arms. Those weren’t very frequent, but they happened. I didn’t have one single night like that with your sister when she was a baby. You taught me so much.
You teach me everyday. Like the times when you disobey me while we’re out, and I tell you that you will deal with the consequences when we get home. I’ve lost count of the number of times I forget until you remind me. You have such character already. How did you come to me my boy? I don’t deserve a child like you.
I am who I am because of you. You are the first thing I have done that I must do, no matter what. I realized when you were very small that being your mommy, taking care of you when you needed it, is the only thing I have done, that no one else can or will do. If I didn’t feed you, there was no one else who would do it for me. Being your mommy is the first thing I have undertaken that really matters. I had to become strong to do it, because you are strong. I had to become patient, because you require patience. I had to be capable of more love than I ever thought that I could hold, because you deserve to be loved unconditionally, and completely. I had to become humble, because I have erred and I have needed to tell you that and ask you to forgive me instead of pretending to be perfect, to let you know that it’s okay to not be perfect, that making mistakes will happen and its better to try and fail than to not try at all. I need to let you know that especially my dear son. I already see the part of you that demands perfection, needs everything to work a certain way. I hope I can help you to turn that to strength instead of the crippling thing it can become.
Before you were born, I believed in theory that children are blessings. Your Beema told me that often the way children bless us is because of the ways we have to grow in order to parent them. You have a wise Beema. You have been one of the greatest blessings in my life, the most life changing, and very beautiful.
Happy birthday my boy. I love you so much.