photo, Sarah Hopper

To my sweet (and at times, salty) 4-year-old bundle of joy (and energy!),

It’s your birthday and I literally cannot believe you are F O U R! When talking about babies, everyone always says “it seems like just yesterday you were born!” And it actually feels like a lifetime, to me. But, at the same time, you’ve grown up so fast, and the time has seemed to speed by. However, it is true when “they say” the years are short and the days are long.

I remember not so long ago, I was a stay-at-home mama with you. From the day you were born, I was tossed into mom life, having no clue what I was doing (literally, NONE.) I grew up with one younger sister, but all our extended family were hundreds and thousands of miles away, so babies and I weren’t exactly thick as thieves, and I only took child development classes in college to complete a “diverse” theme requirement (and heard that theme was the easiest, but, shhhh….PS, it was actually really hard.) Anyway, after you were born and we were released from the hospital and back home, I remember looking at your grandma have such grace as she carried you along, taking you outside to find serenity under the palm trees and listening to the waterfalls in our old house. I was amazed how much she could do with just two hands, and I looked up at her saying, “But seriously HOW DO YOU DO ALL OF THIS WITH ONE HAND?!” Because she could literally conquer the world with one hand while holding you in the other. She said, “oh, you’ll figure it out in no time.” And sure enough, when your dad started traveling for work leaving me as a solo mama, that one-handed-magic appeared.

I know these last couple years have seemed a bit chaotic for you. You went from one house to two; family-of-three vacations to three different sets of extended family trips, allllll over the country (and the world…what three year old gets to do that?!) But, miraculously, even through the back-and-forth, you always know where home is. And it completely melts my heart when you look at me and say “Home is wherever I am with you.” Remember a few weeks ago when you said you were scared to leave for a week? So I grabbed your sweet little hand (where baby squish has officially graduated and toddler fingers and palms have taken over) and we walked outside into the dark. We sat on the ground and I told you whenever you feel scared or miss me that all you have to do is look up at the sky; we look at the same sun, the same stars, the same moon, and I am ALWAYS with you, whenever you may go. You may not know it, but last week when you told me, “Mama, I’m always with you” and “Mama, we see the same sky,” I totally melted. You sure know the key to this mama’s heart; don’t ever forget our saying….that it’s more important to be kind than handsome. Remember that, always.

Speaking of kindness, I hope you never lose your endless energy, sense of wonder, curiosity, and sweet joy. When you were a baby, people would stop me everywhere we went to tell me you had such a sweet, special soul. I know every mom boasts about their children, but it’s no secret I think you’re an incredible tiny human. You are so brave. You can be so kind. Of course, you can also be Tanner tornado and a complete feisty rascal, but you are also so silly, creative, and loving.

I don’t really know where time has gone (oh, but at the same time, I do.) Thank you for encouraging me to be the best mom and person I know how to be (and become). You give me purpose, something to fight for, and something to live for greater than myself. Your needs trump mine, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Your adventures are my adventures. Your wishes are what I work hard to give you.

I know it’s not easy when it’s just the two of us, and me going back to work full-time was a huge adjustment for both of us. Your ability to adapt to pre-school (and now pre-k; eek!) makes me admire your strength, ability to overcome challenges, and your ability to adapt to new environments. Gosh, I’m proud to be your mama.

Thank you for eating my healthy meals and foods, but always being so excited for our special dates and/or special treats. Thank you for sharing your sweet spirit with me. Thank you for saying please and thank you, and remembering your manners when you’re at other people’s homes. Thank you for being my little cub and best friend. Thank you for being YOU.

On this day, August 30th, 2017, I hope you know you are SO loved, admired, cherished, appreciated, and celebrated. Four years ago, I almost puked everywhere during my c-section, totally shocked this 7lb 13oz baby appeared out of my bump that was always charted “small” and “concerned for growth” (hello, long torso). I never thought I could be a “good” mom because I was never ready to be a mom. Times were tough and I was overcome by the fear of the unknown and anxiety of the future, but you’ve grounded me. You gave my once wanderlust wings a clipping that they needed and we’ve planted roots, together. I don’t need globetrotting “epic adventures,” because I’ve got my own greatest adventure right here – YOU.

Happy fourth birthday, my baby boy. Love you to the moon and the stars and a hundred times over. Love you sooooo much. Love you forever. You’re my best friend. I hope your day is more special than anything you’ve dreamed, and filled with infinite butterfly, Eskimo, and princess kisses.

Happy Birthday, Tanny!

Love, Mama 💗

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