My sweet Jake. I love you so. I didn't realize this would be such an emotional letter to write, but my eyes are tearing up in just those first two sentences. Life has been so busy and wild that I haven't had time to be sad about your first birthday - as I was with both your brothers while they turned one. And it seems crazy, knowing you are the end of my baby days in motherhood, yet not having enough time to drink up every last nano-second of that. I'm rocking you to sleep for your morning nap right now, and taking this moment to feel it all around me. This is it. My final moments of mothering an infant. You boys have been my dream come true.
A while ago, I sat thinking about the three of you and the lessons you bring to my life. Luke is my mirror and my trailblazer. He shows me pieces of myself I didn't realize were there, and pulls me out of my comfort zone on a daily basis. I think in return, I'm able to offer him empathy and patience that only I can understand, having nearly identical thought processes. Henry is my sunshine, my innocence, my optimism. He shows me how to be happy and not take life too seriously. He has taken the longest to grow up, held onto more of his baby features, and gleefully stumbles through life and doesn't mind or even really notice his failures at all.
Luke blazes the trail, Henry shows me how to live while I'm on it.
And you? Oh, my Jake. You are my comfort. You are my acceptance, my indulgence, my missing piece. You are the cozy sweater and fuzzy boots I'm wearing as I follow the trail.
I spent my pregnancy with you all wrong. That's not something I can change, and I can't even say I regret it because I can clearly understand and accept the reasons why. But I can say, with confidence, that I spent your baby year 100% right. I breathed you in and held you tight and kissed your cheeks and pinched your rolls. I may not have had time to think about how quick this time would be and how sad that makes me, but my heart knew. My heart reached out to you every hour of every day. You and your Mama's boy ways indulged me.
We're at the end now, and I don't want to let you go. Despite this next year of you still looking the part of baby while you learn all of the little boys things of life like walking and fumbling over new words being as adorable as adorable comes, I'm not ready. I'm not ready for you to leave the crook of my arm at night. I'm not ready to see you walk away from me as you toddle off to explore. I'm not ready to watch you do the thousands of things you're learning to do for yourself that you've needed me for through your first year. I know I can't slow time - I've tried, for nearly 6 years now as your brothers blossom and change at lightening speed. But I wish - I wish wish wish there were some way to pop back to this moment one day, when you're off driving your first serious girlfriend around town, or leaving me for college, or doing something scary or dangerous that I no longer have a say over.
You are the end of an era for me, Jake. And part of your purpose in this life, I believe, was to extend that for me. This is the golden age of my story - you made it longer. Instead of being sad about the end, I should be grateful you were here at all. Your tough pregnancy almost felt like God saying, "Be warned: I'm giving you this gift, but this is the end. There can be no more." And since then, I've had more resolve in my heart about being done having kids than ever before, so it feels right. More than anything, I am so grateful to you for being here. So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for choosing me (if souls do that sort of thing). Thank you for letting me do all of the infant mothering things I love so, so much, one last time.
You know, some days, when I'm overwhelmed and out of time, I get so frustrated when you don't go right to sleep at naps and bedtime, or you don't sleep long enough. In fact, that's the majority of the time. I feel badly about that because life with 3 has dictated things that way - I didn't have the same stress and lack of time before now. But there are certain times, like when you first join me in bed in the middle of night, or right this very moment when I want to hold you - sleepy, nursing, stuffed into footie pj's, breathing deep little baby breaths - and hold you, and hold you, and hold you. And I get mad at life. I get angry at all the things that keep me from you - my personal dessert of life. My sweet boy, you will never know how uniquely special you are to me.
Thank you for this year. All the others that come, now, will be more for you than they are for me. The first is purely a Mom's indulgence, and you personified that for me. Thank you for that gift.
You are so loved, Jake.
So incredibly loved.
Happy Birthday, my baby.
May you enjoy life as much as you've helped me enjoy mine. I love you, forever!