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I’ve loved him for three years. But really, I’ve loved him always.

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Three year old's birthday - cupcake and candles in the dark.

I knew it was dangerous, but I couldn’t help it. I kept glancing over my shoulder to notice the lone car seat in the back.

After a year-and-a-half of seeing two car seats out of the corner of my eye, seeing one on it’s own felt so foreign. Alarming even.

Earlier that day I had put Levi’s seat into our friends’ car so that they could take him to swimming lessons while I stayed home with a very feverish, very sad Judah-bug. And now that I was on my way to the grocery store without having put it back, my big, family car felt exceedingly empty.

It’s hard to imagine that half of Levi’s short lifetime ago, this was all I knew. I drove to the super market slowly squinting my eyes and trying to remember what it was like to drive around with just one.

And I can’t really. That year-and-a-half since Judah was born feels like years ago.

They always say that the little years disappear in the blink of an eye. They say to cherish them. They say to enjoy the moment. They say to hang on for the ride. They say children grow so fast.

All of the clichés they say are true.

And yet what do you do in the midst of them? How do you remember in the thick of the busy? The tantrums? The twelve loads of laundry in one week? The food rejected? Cuddles refused? Stand-offs at the diaper station? Or the melt-downs when I won’t wear my running shoes with my dress, even though a certain someone thinks they will complete my outfit perfectly?

A few nights ago my almost-three-year-old slipped quietly through the roller door from his bedroom to ours and slid under the sheets next to me. I pulled him in close, smelled his freshly washed hair, and wished I could freeze that moment in time.

But as quickly as it came, it left.

As soon as his love-tank was filled by moonlight, he silently made his way back into his room – glad for his space, his pillow, and the company of his lovies.

Only days later I watched him play Go Fish and crack three-year-old jokes and speak with slang and jargon and teach Judah that, “no, you ride the bike like this” and “come on Judah, hold the cwayon like this.”

We lit three candles on his cupcake, representing the three years he’s been with us. But really there have been so many more.

three year old blowing out candles

Nine months before that I carried him, rubbing the skin of my belly stretched tight.

Years before that I dreamt of him, praying his very life into existence.

He’s everything and more I would hope for in a child – sweet, clever, creative, sensitive, passionate, strong, handsome, brave, hilarious.

If I didn’t have the photos and blog posts and journals and video clips… I sometimes wonder how much I would remember of the last three years.

Already, my memories are blurring around the edges.

It’s been the most challenging time in my life – all of my weaknesses and insecurities laid bare, while all of my strengths and gifts rise to the surface with new meaning. The torrent of emotion that comes with wildly failing and wildly succeeding–sometimes within the very same hour–can feel like a bit much at times.

My character has been sharpened. My capacity stretched. My values solidified.

So much of that I owe to my forever first born.

I’m not even sure how to write about him these days. Do I record the side-splitting things he says? Do I meticulously record the milestones? Do I let photos do the speaking?

(He’s harder and harder to photograph these days, you know– always aware of the camera and either moving out of the way or working it, rarely letting me capture a spontaneous moment anymore.)

He’s shyer in public than I ever imagined he would be. Yet also louder and crazier and far more fun.

He’s my little man of many colors.

My gorgeous boy – the one who made me a mom and will always be my favorite first born. I love him. I love him to the moon and right back again. I love him so much that–at times–it actually hurts.

There are few words that describe the many that my heart contain for him. None could do him justice.

Happy birthday baby. Mama loves you.

Three-year-old rock star.

6 Comments

  • Reply Jennifer Burklow 3 February 2013 at 12:30 am

    My daughter is only 3 months old, but I’m already feeling the time slipping away. Much of it is bittersweet… Stuck between being excited for each milestone she reaches, and wishing I could keep her this little and protected forever.
    Jennifer Burklow recently posted..Painted finger nailsMy Profile

  • Reply Becca @ Bare Feet on the Dashboard 12 February 2013 at 5:14 am

    Such a beautiful post and so true. Our #2 is about 10 weeks away from birth and already I can’t believe how fast the Bear has grown. He will be a big brother and a big boy so soon. It breaks my heart to think about missing a moment with him. Thanks for the great reminder to cherish every bit.
    Becca @ Bare Feet on the Dashboard recently posted..Best of Bare Feet on the Dashboard: Baby and Pregnancy EditionMy Profile

  • Reply Alicia 3 March 2013 at 7:38 am

    Wow, has it really been three years already?!?! Thanks for the few drops of tears on the keyboard this afternoon. What a beautiful post, and a great reminder to continue savoring these times with the little ones in my life.

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