Today you turned 3 years old. It is difficult to believe that 3 years have passed already since the day you entered our lives. I remember the day vividly, and as I currently sit here not only thinking of your own birth, but also anticipating your brother's arrival, I am especially conscious of the memories, feelings, and thoughts I had in the days after your birth. It was an overwhelming time. Our life was changed forever. At first it wasn't always easy to see the amazing ways in which life had changed. Caring for a newborn is really hard and it can be overwhelming. Much of the earliest days, though filled with immense love, gratitude and joy, they were also stressful! But tonight, as I tucked you in, your first night as a 3 year-old, I teared up as I thought about how truly wonderful being your Mama is!
I'm not saying every day is perfect, or that I'm the perfect Mom (far from it!), or that you're perfect. But the life we are living is truly wonderful. You are a wonderful little boy, who is so filled with joy and excitement, and you fill my life with more smiles and happiness than I ever could have imagined. These past 3 weeks, when I have been home with you, and only you, our time together has been magical. My heart melts multiple times each day when you, out of the blue, turn to me and say, "I looooove you, Mama!" I can't help but smile every time you get so excited about something that you jump up and down and flap your arms. (I need to stop worrying that your "flapping" is of concern, and rather, just take comfort in the fact that you are a very, very joyful, happy boy!) I love your "monkey hugs" when you wrap your arms and legs around me so tightly I can practically feel the love oozing out of you.
Ryan, there are so many things about you that make you such a special, wonderful boy. You are kind and caring. You are very sensitive, and when we read books, in which something sad happens to someone or something, you often cry. I remember the first time you cried at the end of "10 Little Lady Bugs" because you were so upset that the last Lady Bug was all alone. All the convincing in the world that she was eventually reunited with her friends could not calm the sadness you experienced on her behalf. You also get tearful when reading books that are sentimental, though not necessarily sad, such as "Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You." You not only show emotion when reading books, but also when interacting with other people. If someone you know is sad, you will quickly give them a hug and say, "Its OK! Its OK!" If you hear a baby crying you will ask, with a concerned look on your face, "Why is that baby sad?" This compassion and sensitivity you have for others is one of the things about you of which I am most proud. I hope you never lose this sensitivity, and never shy away from showing it openly.
You are also a very, very friendly boy. Just tonight, when we took you to Chick-Fil-A, you waved and said "Hi!" to people as we walked by, or to the kids at the table across from us. You quickly made friends with the other little boy in the play area and enjoyed a game of hide-and-seek. When one of the little girls was leaving the play area you gave her a hug and said, "Bye!" I love going places with you because you make people smile. At my recent OB appointments you are a big hit in the waiting room. You wave to people until they notice you and then you say, "Hi!" They smile immediately and say, "Hi" back and you generally engage in some kind of adorable conversation. You politely ask to see the babies who are with their moms. You know not to touch unless invited to touch them.
You're also a great conversationalist. When Dada comes home from work and we are eating dinner you almost always ask, "How was your day today, Dada?" You will sometimes ask, "What did you do?" You listen for the answers and ask appropriate follow-up questions.
You are confident and polite. If you want to ask a grown-up a question or tell them something, even a grown-up you don't know, you politely say, "Excuse me. Excuse me...." and then you ask your question or share your news. You did this at "My Gym" recently when the teacher was explaining that free play time was a good time to go potty or get a drink of water. You raised your hand, said "excuse me" and then politely explained, "Ms. Holly, we can't get a drink of water because you are out of cups." You will even ask strangers questions without hesitation. Again, in the OB's office you recently wanted to know one of the baby's names. You stood in front of the Mom, said, "Excuse me. What is the baby's name?" and then said "Hello Savannah!" to the cute baby girl in the car seat. You make me so proud and so happy on such a regular basis. People can't help but smile when they're around you. That is a gift. And it is one I hope you never stop sharing with the world!
Despite the fact that you talk almost CONSTANTLY you also find a lot of time to play and have fun. Lately you love to play with playdoh and you continue to love trucks, cars, fire engines, rockets, and helicopters. Your imagination has EXPLODED lately. The stories you act out involving cars stuck on mountains, cars that need rescuing because they caught on fire, rockets flying to the moon, or animals playing with their friends are fun to be a part of and a joy to listen to. You like to play with the Ipad (though we limit your time spent doing this!). For many months you especially loved the "Trucks" game in which you can change the tires on the cars with a flat tire. You're also now rather smitten with a few apps we have that involve building and launching rockets. The ease with which you quickly figure out the intricacies of each of these games never ceases to amaze me (though I also know this is normal for your generation of kiddos who is growing up with technology truly at your finger tips). You still absolutely LOVE to play outside. You may be happiest when playing at the playground, riding in your toy car with PopPop, or digging in the dirt with your many trucks. And yet, you love rainbows and playing with your new dollhouse. You affirm and defy gender stereotypes on a daily basis and I love it!
I could go on and on trying to capture the person you are in writing and I will never do you justice. You're amazing in my book, little Bubba! And one day, when you're much older, and you go back and read this letter, I hope that above all what will stand out is how very much I love you and am proud of you. You are a wonderful son. Being your Mama is the greatest privilege of my life!
As we await your little brother's arrival, I can't wait to watch you grow not only as a boy, and a son, but as a brother. You already show such concern and consideration for your baby bro. You ask, "Is Baby Zachary hungry, too?" when you're hungry. You wonder whether he will like the same activities you do. You give my belly hugs and say, "I love you Baby Zachary!" I have confidence you're going to be an amazing big brother. But I also know it will be challenging for you at times. But please, Ryan, do not ever forget how very much Mommy and Daddy love you and always will!
Happy 3rd Birthday Sweet Boy! I love you sooooooooo much!