An Open Letter to My Son on His Fourth Birthday
You’ve been so sick this week and have wanted all of the cuddles with your mama and I’ve been more than happy to oblige, but I must tell you that something sad happened as I held you in my arms last night, listening to your tender breaths. I was struck with the realization that it would be the very last time I would hold you in my arms as a three-year-old because today, you are four.
You’ve been looking forward to your birthday and when something woke you at 2:00 a.m. and you realized that it was the “tomorrow” daddy and I promised you would come, you woke us up to show us that you’d “growed up” in your sleep and that you’re well on your way to becoming a “giant like daddy.”
You, my precious boy, really have grown up so much in this last year. You are such a bundle of personality. You are fearless and unfaltering, but you also have a tender heart. You will talk to anyone. You will literally talk to them until they decide they want to have a conversation with you because it’s easier than ignoring you. You’re relentless in that regard and I love it. I love that you ask people how they are and what their favorite colors are and what they’ve got planned for the day. Young or old, it doesn’t matter. I’m not really sure that you even see “age.” I think you just see people and you’re curious about their lives. I hope you never lose that curiosity or ability to chat with anyone about anything.
John, I love that you and I can now have full conversations about all sorts of things and I love to watch as the wheels in your head turn and you figure things out and then explain those things to me with delight. How many boys your age like to have detailed conversations about specific shades of colors? You do! To you, something isn’t just blue. It’s navy, sky, aquamarine, and so on. The little details mean so much to you.
Something little to you but big to me has changed in the last year. While you insist on cuddling with me before falling asleep at night, you get very upset when I call you my baby. You fire back, “I not your baby, I just a kid named John.” Well, 'kid named John,' you are and you always will be my baby no matter how big or how old you get. And I will call you my baby until the day that I die. While my heart hurts that you’re growing up and don’t want the same kisses and hugs from me that you used to, I’m going to choose to be excited that you’re growing up instead of being sad about it. Life is beautiful.
Your imagination and expressions as you weave stories together make me grin. I once knew a little girl who used to be like that and she grew up to love to write and do creative type things and it excites me to see that you and I will have those things in common. On the other hand, you’re just like your daddy in your desire to use your tools to fix or take things apart to see how they work. You, my boy, are literally the perfect mix of both of your parents, but you’re also very much your own individual and it’s been such a pleasure seeing that bloom within you this past year.
I know some days you might think that your mama and daddy are the meanest parents ever, but just as my mama told me when I was little, I will also tell you, “you’ll thank us one day.” Daddy and I are bound and determined to teach you tenderness and respect. You’ve already got the passion, determination, and fearlessness, but sweet boy, having tenderness and respect will be two of your biggest secret weapons one day when you’re a grown man.
You amaze me, John. I look at you and I see everything that is good in my life. You are my greatest reward. You are growing up much faster than I’d like and I know that it will feel like I’ve blinked and you’ve turned five and then 15, and then 25. Son, I make this promise to you: no matter where the path of life takes you I will forever love you.
Happy fourth birthday, John! I love you. So much.