I blinked and you turned 1. This morning, as I was watching you sleep with your arms thrown up over your head, the perfect rise and fall of your chest, the way your dark lashes brush your cheeks, I realized you’re suddenly much more toddler and much less baby. You’re suddenly so tall. How did this happen? Yesterday I was planning for your arrival. Today I’m planning your first birthday party.
I thought I was going to have so much more time this past year. With your brother and sister I was on a maternity leave countdown from the moment they were born. As a full-time working mom, I had to leave them and head back to work just 12 weeks in. But with you I didn’t have to be away for 40 hours a week. Imagine how much time I was getting! Instead, it seems everything sped up no matter how much I willed it to slow down.
I worry, sweet boy, that I failed you this past year. Some nights you were left to cry longer than I would’ve liked because I was helping your brother and sister get out of the bathtub. You didn’t always get my undivided attention, even as I nursed you, because I was often filling up water cups and getting Goldfish crackers for the big kids while you ate, too. And when you started to crawl, I didn’t even put the baby gate at the top of the stairs or stop you when you wandered into the flowerbed. I wasn’t worried about the dirt on your socks or underneath your fingernails. I didn’t get mad, either, when you dropped your dinner, pea by pea, onto the kitchen floor just to see what happened. I knew better than to clean it up midway. And when you decided to wipe spaghetti sauce in your hair, I knew you’d clean up just fine in the bathtub, too.
Is this what it means to be the third child?
You don’t have a baby book…yet. I’ve got your hospital bracelets and Baptism cards and a few other precious mementos and I fully intend to put them in a baby book on a rainy day (once I finally purchase it, that is). Your brother has a calendar with detailed daily happenings. Your sister has a baby book completed to month four (got some work to do there, too). You – I tried to capture a photo each month and as I looked through them for your first birthday party, I realized I missed month four, nine and ten. I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for not reading to you enough. I’m sorry for days when you were carted to preschool drop off during naptime and soccer practice when you wanted to nurse and that you often got put down in the middle of the bathroom floor during your sister’s potty training. I’m sorry that you don’t always get my 100% undivided attention.
At your bedtime, when I do finally slow down enough to focus on just you, do you hear my promises to try harder the next day? Do you hear my whispers of “I’m sorry”? Do you hear when I say that our family wouldn’t be the same without you? Do you know that I love you fiercely?
We all love you much, Jack. Your big brother used to stand at your Pack ‘n Play® and sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to get you to smile when he didn’t think anyone was watching. Your sister swelled with pride when she held you (which was quite often) when you were just an itty bitty baby. Now she swells with pride when she gets you to laugh. You had your own squad of cheerleaders clapping the day you first pushed your walking toy across the room on your own. You get your fair share of hugs and kisses and laughter and love on a daily basis.
I know the years are only going to go faster and faster. But I want you to know that even if there isn’t a baby book or all 12 of those monthly milestone photos, the past year with you was a wonderful gift. And I’m so grateful for it. And for you.
I will love you always.