Last night, as I pulled your sheet up to your chest, I smiled and whispered, “Tomorrow, when you wake up, you will be a big.four.year.old.boy!” I expected that big grin I know so well to spread from one chubby cheek to the other. Instead, you looked up at me sadly. You quietly said, “But then I won’t be your baby anymore.”
You, little man, can break my heart like no other. You can also mend it better than anyone else. Because, while you don’t even realize it, you hold my heart every day.
This past year, I have been along for quite a wild ride with you. I have watched you master new skills, and learn new things, and overcome so many challenges. And while you are quick to get frustrated, and quick to be hurt by the words of others (especially your big brother), you are also quick to smile, and quick to turn things around.
You are a leaps and bounds kind of guy. An all or nothing kind of kid. You only teethed three times – 4 teeth, then 4 teeth, then all the rest at once. Your first steps were not a wobbly couple feet shuffles, but instead a seven or eight step stroll across the room. You were a man of few words, until one day you weren’t, and just like that you were speaking in sentences. Potty training? After the first three days I was ready to back off, and then you were dry from day four on.
You are filled with this combination of imagination and words that makes this writer mama’s heart burst with joy. I watch you pretend play with little superheroes and army guys, and am awed by the elaborate stories and scenarios you create with them. Some days, you ask me five or six times what different words mean. You get frustrated when you can’t pronounce a word correctly and can’t stand when I don’t know what you are saying. You, like your mama, really listen to words, whether they are in song lyrics, or a story, or spoken by a friend.
You have such a kind and gentle heart. You are quick to share and almost always remember your thank yous. While you are my child who hits and scratches, I have come to realize it is because you are hurt so easily and your little heart doesn’t know what to do with that. You simply can’t understand why someone would leave you out, or take your toy, or say mean words. And while I have seen you try out these actions in retaliation, I can see in your eyes that they simply don’t fit you.
While your older brother has blazed the trail and taught me to be a parent, you are often the one that teaches me the finer points of becoming a good one. You show me that kindness, and patience, and calm will go much further than pushing, and yelling, and shaming. By teaching you to take a deep breath, lower your voice, and find a better way, I have learned the value of these actions myself. Your little voice telling me, “I want you to listen to me, Mama,” has made me see that sometimes poor behavior is simply a request for help in figuring out how to deal with frustration, or exhaustion, or simply needing your mama, and when I stop and listen, I hear that.
As I told you last night, you will ALWAYS be my baby. Even when you turn 5, and even when you turn 65, you will be my baby. So grow big, and strong, and smart. Don’t ever fear you will lose me, my baby, because you hold my heart now and forever.