To Jack, on your birthday.

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Happy third birthday, my curly-head wonder boy.

Jack, TWO was incredible. And just like that, *poof* , it’s gone.

All day yesterday I thought “he’ll never be two again.” I loved that age, and I think you did too. You went from baby to boy, and now we have essentially the same vocabulary, though your usage and grammar still need a little work (but not much!) This morning when you wake up, you’ll hold up three little fingers when I ask you how old you are, your mess of hair all pushed up on one side, your cheeks red, that little smirk on your face, eyes squinting against the morning sunlight.

Although you’ve changed and grown a lot in the past year, you’ve maintained that sense of humor that surprises me every day and makes me laugh out loud. You still smirk. You still look like me, maybe now more than ever. You still have the roundest little face. You still have the cutest legs in the neighborhood.

You are a pretty good athlete, which gives me such joy because it will be something you can share with daddy. You can sing, and you’re always asking me to “do it again,” to learn the words. I recall your Grandy saying that I used to do the exact same thing to her, so it’s possible there’s music in you as well. I think I’ll probably make you try to learn an instrument, which you’re likely to hate, but it’s one of those things you’d thank me for later. You love to read. You’re kind. You dress well. You like to watch movies. You always offer to get me water or a snack when you’re getting them for yourself. You’re pretty much the ideal guy.

Jack, this wasn’t an easy year for us. When I was pregnant with Mae I wasn’t the mama you were used to. We spent so much time sitting on the couch, and our routines of adventure and being outside in all weather, and playing together at your level were seriously interrupted because I felt so terrible. And then when she was born, your world turned upside down. Buddy, mine did too. We love that little Goose so much, don’t we? But bringing in another treasure to our family has been tough in a lot of ways. I know sometimes it probably feels frustrating that you have to share me with her, and that most of the time she seems like my top priority. Trust me baby, she is not. I love you both the MOST. You are my two favorites.

I want to tell you that this year you taught me, more than any other thing, about forgiveness. For lots of reasons you’ll understand one day, God willing, I’ve been quicker to anger and frustration this year, and it breaks my heart to say I’ve taken it out mostly on you. You’re my wingman in life, and just because you’re always right there, and because you are my most consistent relationship in the day-to-day, you see the very worst of me. I try always to ask for your forgiveness, and Jack, you always give it liberally. And you know, you usually follow “It’s OK mommy” with “I love you.” It’s the most I could ask for. You love me with enormous generosity and grace.

It’s dark out and you are just waking up. Usually I’m working on fiction at this early hour, but today is a special day. Three years ago today you were born, my little leprechaun, and you made me a mother. I have asked God over and over to make the time pass slowly so I can savor it, and you know what? He has.

Happy birthday, my darling love bug. I love you with this strange love that makes my heart feel like it’s going to explode, like the way the Grinch’s heart grows so big in his chest it almost pops through.

I’m the luckiest mom in the world because I’ve got you.

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