To my little man on turning three,
The first letter like this I wrote to you as you turned one. You were teetering into toddlerhood but still firmly my baby. You were learning new things each day but still needed me for just about everything. I had grown to love you more than I had ever expected, but some days it was exhausting. Some days I wanted to speed up time to when you were just a little more independent. A little less baby and a little more boy.
Flash forward two years, and I do mean flash, and you stand on the brink of boyhood. You still need your momma for a lot, but every month, every day, you learn to do one more thing without my assistance. You defiantly declare, “I do it on my own!” if I butt in where you feel I’m not needed. And while I am so intensely proud of each new achievement, I am also aware of that small ache that misses you needing your hand in mine.
In the year ahead you’ll master potty training, start preschool, take swimming without me in the water by your side, and probably learn to climb some new terrifying piece of playground equipment without my hands boosting your bum. Because you have indeed become less baby and more boy. It’s wonderful, but it’s also a little sad. I think maybe you sense it, too.
Lately at bedtime, in the darkness of your room, you tell me you need me by your side. “Don’t leave! I want you to snuggle,” you whisper, clinging to my clothes. After two years of putting yourself to sleep, you suddenly need the touch of me beside you again. Being a big boy all day is hard work, and when night falls you’re okay with being my baby again.
I probably should break the habit. I need the hours after you go to bed to be productive. I want you to be a good independent sleeper again. I know there’s a wee bit of manipulation in your puppy dog pleas to “stay more minutes” and I should hold firm and say no.
But the truth is, just as your still small hands grasp my sleeve and pull me close to you, I am clutching tight to the baby you once were and in my heart will always be. So for a few more nights I will curl up by your side, rub your back, and sing to you the same lullaby I’ve sung since you were an infant in my arms.
Even if the almost three year old you changes the lyrics these days to be about tooting. Boyhood here we come.
This time, though, let’s take it slow.
Love you forever and always,