To Jack on your birthday

Dear Jack,

Today you turned 4 years old. I remember the day you were born, my first time in the labor and delivery ward. You came 3 weeks early and I had woken up that morning planning on going to work. I was in labor long enough for grandma to fly down from Washington and be there. Grandma Larson was there too, stroking my forehead as I pushed for about an hour. And your dad, of course, was there...just the right mixture of excited and calm . The only one who wasn't there until the very last second was the doctor, but this letter isn't about all of that. It is about you.

The minute I saw you, I started sobbing. I was so so in love with you. I felt for the first time what is meant by "a mother's love." I know that sounds cheesy, and not really like something I'd say, but that was it. You were the baby who taught me what it means to be a mom.

I remember on our first night home from the hospital you woke up again and again. You only wanted to sleep on your tummy, and after the warnings in the hospital I wasn't taking any chances. Groggily, I brought you out to the couch where grandma was sleeping. I was so tired I was almost in tears. She commented on how hard this must be for you, little Jack, coming into this world. How all you know is that I will come when you cry, and that is what makes you feel safe. It was an important lesson.

Sometimes I feel like I've robbed you of what should have been yours. A few more years of being the baby, of it being just us. Sometimes that thought makes me swallow hard, because I'm not really certain of anything I do as a mom. At age four you are a big brother 3 times over. Maybe that is why I let you keep a binkie for so long, I just didn't want to force you to grow up. But you seem to enjoy life, you love your brothers, and I can only hope that the benefit they will add to your life will outweigh the cost of my undivided attention for another year.

You are a perfect four-year-old. You are imaginative and fun. You hate to wear pants and often ditch them in the bathroom after I've dressed you for the day. You love to pretend you're a dinosaur, tromping in and ROARing at everyone (including a group on older boys at the park the other day). very scary. You still cuddle with me and need me to kiss you better. You just learned to draw stick people and made a picture of our whole family on stage with microphones in hand. So cute. You like to run and you are very fast. The other day your dad and I looked up to see that in only a few seconds you had run all the way to the other end of the park. We called you back and you were by my side in a wink.

You know how to obey and like to be good. You help your brothers remember the rules and let me know when they don't follow them. You are very good at sharing and don't mind being on the outside (aka not right next to me) when I read to you guys. You say "sure" whenever I ask you to get a diaper, or bring me the phone, or throw something in the hamper. You never ride your bike further than instructed and the other day when you got a birthday treat at church you gave half of it away to Taylor and Noah without me asking you to. You are so so good. I'm really amazed at you sometimes.

You have made my adventures as a mother so rewarding. I look at you and think, "well, I'm doing something right." Now, after a day of treats and gifts and no naps and craziness, you are up in bed sleeping and I want to go get you, like in the book "I love you forever." I want you to know that although there are many boys in this little family, I adore you. You are so loved by me. I can't wait to see what this year brings, what you'll learn or say next. But just take it slow, I really like you as you are.


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