It's been a REALLY long time since I've taken the time to write. But, on the night before my son's third birthday, I'm feeling incredibly nostalgic and compelled to pour my heart out. Hang on to your butts, folks, it's going to be a bumpy ride!
My precious Charlie,
Three years ago tonight, your father and I were about to begin the most amazing journey of our lives. In just a few short hours, you will officially be three years old. Three years ago, my heart began walking around outside of my body. (I stole that from a quote...I'll admit it.) Three years ago, I was young and naive. Three years ago, I had NO idea what was about to happen or how things were going to change. Three years ago, I fell in love, with you, with your dad, with God's amazing plan. Three years ago, I became a mother.
You were born just three days after Christmas. I have a feeling you'll dislike your birthday growing up, but I felt especially lucky to have a baby so close to Christmas. Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones, maybe it was the normal nostalgia people feel around Christmastime, but whatever it was, I felt "closer" to Mary and the story of Jesus' birth. The Christmas story felt more alive when I could feel the movements of my own child inside of me. I could more easily imagine what Mary must have felt carrying that baby boy. I held my belly tighter, thinking, "What if it were me?" There was a new Christmas song that year, Joseph's Lullaby. It brought me to tears every time I heard it. You see, even then, I think I knew how quickly the time would pass.
I look at you now and it's hard for me to remember you as a baby. There's so little "baby" left in you. Your face is that of a little boy (your father as a little boy, actually :)) You've grown so independent lately. I hardly feel needed these days. You love to "snuggle on the couch" and if at all possible, I stop whatever I'm doing and snuggle with you, if only for a moment. I know that one day, all too soon, you'll be to "big" for snuggling. Just the thought of it brings me to tears. Your newest phase is the "but, why?" phase. You ask "why" about EVERYTHING. At bedtime you usually request more snuggle time (an attempt to put off bedtime I'm sure) and ask "why" when we refuse. I'm so tempted to say, "nevermind. Let's snuggle a little longer." I know I shouldn't, and so I don't. But, I want to. I want to hold you close, kiss your hair, smell the sweet boyishness of you. I want you curl up in my arms. I want to hear you say, "Hey, Mama." I want to feel you breathe and remember the nights (the MANY nights) I held you on my chest as baby while you slept and breathed the same way. I wanted so badly for those long nights to end back then, but I'd take one more sleepless night if it meant I could hold you all night long, feel you nestle in further every once in a while, and be the first thing you see when you open your eyes in the morning.
I worry every day that I'm not the mother I should be, the mother you deserve. I'm often so tired, I fall asleep before I finish my prayers at night, but my first prayer is always to be a better mother, more patient, more understanding, more loving. I pray that I'm teaching you things I should and raising you to be the man I want you to be.
These days aren't easy. Aunt Kari told me the other day that three is the new two. In fact, I feel most days that I spend more time reprimanding and fussing than I do being pleasant to you. I treasure the happy moments, the sweet moments, the times when you wrap your arms around my neck or laugh your pure, genuine, angelic laugh. I know this too shall pass and I'll long for these days in years to come, just as I wished those first few months of your life to hurry up and pass so we could move on to more "fun" times. Now I look back and think of all the times I should have soaked up those hours, as hard as they were. Because now, they're gone. Time continues to move on. Days continue to pass. And with each day, you grow older. I can't slow it down. I can't turn back the clock. I can't undo or redo anything.
Know this, my sweet boy, my little man, my Charlie-bear....you are loved. You are loved more than you will ever know, until the day you hold your own little one in your arms. These three years I have felt more than I have ever felt. I've laughed more, and cried more. All because of you. All because you have taught me love...unconditional, unwavering, heartwrenching, life-altering love.
Happy 3rd birthday, Sweetheart.