Four. It’s a seemingly small number, but today it feels huge. You are four years old. It completely mystifies me that four years ago, you made me a mom. For that, you will forever and always hold a place in my heart that no one else can.
You are my smidge. And even though you’re growing at an alarming rate these days, you’re still so little. We tell you you’re a “big boy” and often demand that you behave like one, but truth be told, you’re still so little.
I see it in certain instances, like when I pick you up from school and you run towards me yelling “Mommy!” as you leap into my arms. And there are times when you unknowingly still call me “mama,” which makes my heart melt and break all at once. You’re at such a weird age right now. Sometimes you are still a baby. And others, you seem fully grown. Sometimes when I reach for your hand, you choose not to hold mine, but other times you insist that I carry you. I try to let you set the pace with these things, but I probably send you mixed signals about which direction I want you to go. It’s because I can’t choose myself!
The last year brought so much change with the arrival of your little sister, and along with it, the many, many tantrums and defiant behavior that come with being three. Let’s just say that just like everything else you do, you excelled at being three. You struggled. You wanted me to yourself. You didn’t want Little Roo around, especially at bedtime. But we got through it. And now, you maybe even like her a little! You’ve grown into a really good big brother, which I always knew you would be.
You’re a lot like me, and because of that, I understand where you’re coming from most of the time. You’re strong-minded, stubborn, and always want to be right. You want to be bigger, faster, smarter, and everything else “more” than anyone else. As you grow, I hope you can learn to harness the drive and desire to be “more” in a way that brings achievement rather than resentment. I’ll do what I can to help guide you in that direction.
You’re figuring out the rules of social interaction now too. It’s difficult, I know. There’s that one kid who you want to play with so badly, but who doesn’t treat you very nicely. And there’s the kid who wants to play with you, but who you don’t pay much attention to. I’m trying my very best to instill in you not to waste your time with anyone who doesn’t value you. I keep telling you “If someone doesn’t want to play with you, find another friend to play with. Just ignore him.” I worry that you will get caught up in the drama of wanting what you can’t have, which will not serve you well down the road. So every night, before bed, I remind you just how special you are, in the hopes that as you grow, this will be an intrinsic belief of yours.
Every night, I hold you on my lap in the chair in your room, and we talk. Some nights you don’t feel much like talking, so I just hold you for a bit and enjoy the silence, breathing in the little boy in you before he is consumed by the bigger one. Some nights, we talk about nonsensical stuff and laugh. But there are special nights, where we connect for real — nights where you give me the chance to pour my love all over you like a waterfall. The other night, we had a talk about what would happen if you got lost. I promised I’d always find you, and told you that moms can always find their kids. You asked “what if I get dead?” and I promised I would never let that happen, that I’d protect you no matter what and always keep you safe. I meant every word. I would give my life to save yours in an instant without a moment of hesitation.
You’ve got big, heavy questions brewing in the background of your mind these days. Daddy and I may not always have an easy answer for you, but we’ll always try to tell you the truth and to reassure you that the truth isn’t so bad. I hope that you will always talk to me, whether it’s in the still moments before you rest your head on your pillow, or as we drive in the car, or as you run in and out as older kids often do. Please know that you can always tell me anything. There is nothing you could ever do or say that would make me stop loving you. I promise.
You and your sister — you’re everything. You are my joy and my constant challenge all at once. You make me a better person than I knew I could be. You are more vital to me than the air I breath, and more precious than anything else. I love you all the way to the moon and back (in a red rocket ship with red rocket boosters) ten million, trillion, gazillion times plus infinity! Happy birthday sweet boy.