Dear Little Man with the wispy hair, bright blue eyes and smile that sweeps wide across your face, lifting those squeezable cheeks toward the sky…
This is your crazy aunty here, you know, the one that will do anything, including crawling around on the kitchen floor and underneath coffee tables, jumping up and down frantically or singing “You are my sunshine” forty-seven million times in a row if it means that you will keep laughing.
Hello there. I have something to tell you. Something I intend to tell you every year when the leaves on the trees outside of your window start to drop from their branches and blow away in the chilly wind. Someday your momma will ask you to rake them up into neat little piles. Someday, when you are bigger you will happily oblige and you will fling your body into the middle of the pile you created, feeling happy and free and glad to be out in the crisp fall air playing and running and jumping and kicking and all around creating havoc like little boys should.
Yes, someday you will.
And someday you will detach and drift and blow with the wind like the very leaves that dropped to the ground on the day of your birth. Someday you will fly away with them into a world filled with adventures and challenges and mountains to climb–the same world you are learning something new about every day.
But today I want to tell you that we are so glad you are here. Before you arrived we were a family, we were happy and full of life and things to do. Before we met you we dreamed you. We dreamed your hair with some curls, your eyes big and blue, your smile the way it showed up on you…always there, lighting our lives. We talked about what you might look like and when you might arrive and who you might become and how we would teach you things about why then sun shines and where the stars go at night.
But we had no idea. We didn’t understand what one little child with two tiny hands and two tiny feet and a nose that turns up just a bit could do to a family that was happy and full of life and had things to do. When we heard you were coming, when we got the call, we couldn’t wait. We drove in the dark in the earliest hours of the morning under a moon that was full and bright to get to you, to welcome you to this earth with open arms. We didn’t want to miss it. We needed to see you first thing!
So we waited, impatiently. We paced the floor. We called our friends. We were nervous. Your momma was brave. And we were so proud as the moon disappeared and made way for that sun that would hang high and bright and shiny in the sky above you. And that earth that just moments before was preparing for a long winter sleep woke up bright and beautiful as your cries bounced off of the walls and out the door and into the morning air on the day you were born.
We were there to hear that first cry. Your momma, your daddy, your grampa and gramma and me. Your other aunty was calling, anxious to meet you, to hear about your eyes and your hands and your hair. Your grandma and grandpa hundreds of miles away were saying their prayers and holding their breath, waiting to hear the news of your arrival. Your uncle came rushing down the hall to hold you in his arms and say hello. He drove fast to get there just in time. He said you were tiny and perfectly perfect.
Your momma cried tears of joy.
And in that moment we couldn’t imagine a world without you.
It’s been a year Little Man and every day you amaze us. Every day you learn something new, you grow just a bit more. Every day you bring us closer to one another as we fall more in love over your busy hands, your belly laughs, the way you crawl and climb and stand and reach and taste and touch and hold on tight.
We hold tight right back. We don’t want to miss a thing. We don’t want to forget.
And all of wonders we thought we would teach you, all of the things that we thought you should learn from us? It turns out we just don’t know a thing, except the way that your hair plops over your eyes when you play and how your breath sounds when you’re fast asleep.
And so I will tell you year after year as the cold comes marching in, the leaves let go and the moon shines longer into the night, as you reach higher toward the sky, walk stronger on the earth, speak words true and knowing from your mouth, I will tell you on the anniversary of your arrival, on the day of your birth, of all of those things we thought you would be–a wonder, a blessing, a gift of a life–
Happy Birthday! I love you…
Now can I please have a bite of that cake?…