‘Today, you are no longer an actual baby. I’m not sure what the official age cut off is, but in my mind, this is it. This is the moment we turn the page into toddler-hood.’

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“My Sweet Baby,

Can I please call you ‘baby’ until I am old and grey?

I will try my very best to be normal when I chaperone your middle school dance (that’s a lie). I will show you respect when you one day act cooler than you really are in front of girls. Your dad and I will do our best to always support you and honor your boundaries. But, just don’t give me a hard time about calling you ‘baby’ forever and ever.

Today, you are no longer an actual baby. I’m not sure what the official age cut off is, but in my mind, this is it. This is the moment we turn the page into toddlerhood.

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I vividly remember the anticipation around your birth. The nights spent wondering what you would look like. The days spent dreaming of how your big sister would react to you. The worry that she would be jealous. The fear that your dad and I wouldn’t have enough love and time to go around.

The anticipation of the delivery.

You should have been born on October 31st, but mama wasn’t risking having a demon child, or even worse being tied to a Halloween birthday party theme forever. And so, I crossed my legs, held my breath, and waited until the next morning to welcome you into this world. So, your birthday was and will forever be November 1. You’re welcome.

You were the biggest newborn I had held in my arms, and yet you still somehow seemed tiny to me. You were my only baby with a head full of hair. Such a beautiful boy. Born the last of five children, you were different. You were special.

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I remember holding you on my chest and wondering how you ever fit inside me. I remember thinking what a miracle and what a gift birth is. What a gift you were.

As we celebrate your birthday, I think back on our time together. I haven’t known you very long, but I really, really like you.

What a joy you have been. Since you were my last baby, I intentionally soaked up every single minute. I wasn’t going to be robbed of time this go-round. I rocked you a little longer and I held you a little tighter.

I knew from experience how fast these days go by, and so I was determined to slow down and enjoy you. It didn’t work.

I still feel like I need more days with a baby who is content only when cuddled close to my chest.

I still crave those precious moments of singing to you as you look deep into my eyes with a sleepy smile.

I still want to breathe in your sweet baby smell.

Ker-Fox Photography

I want to go back and watch you discover your toes and try your darnedest to stretch them to your teeth.

I want to see your little mouth move in an effort to get those soft little coo sounds out.

I already want to rewind time and watch you stumble and fall as you learn to walk to the roar of our over-the-top cheers.

I still want to feel your tiny chubby hand as I pray for you before bed.

These days, I feel lucky if you want to be held for more than a few seconds. You are so busy exploring and playing. You already feel the need to be independent. To do it yourself. To have things your way. Your little baby features are fading away, and I can suddenly see a big boy peeking through.

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As we head in for the next round of parenting, I just want to say, we can’t wait to see what is next.

You have a bit of a temper— a streak of stubbornness. Someone once told me this is the sign of a leader. A person who will work hard for what they think is right. I am holding to this idea, as we gear up for the next year of what is sure to be full of toddler tantrums. Maybe your spirit of defiance will lead you to stand your ground when nobody else is doing what you know is right. When things get tough, you won’t waiver.  No matter the cost, you will stand up for yourself, and others.

You have gotten in trouble for coloring on our walls. Maybe this means you are creative. An artist. Maybe God gave you this desire to express yourself, and maybe you will touch others in the process. Don’t forget to nurture your passions. Take time for your imagination.

You love to take things apart. You need to know how things work. What is inside the toy? I wonder if you will be an inventor or an engineer. I hope you never forget the power and worth in working with your hands. I pray that, like your daddy, you will be able to fix anything that is broken.

You are so funny. You already love to laugh and to make other people laugh. I hope you never lose this. Your smile lights up a room. This is a gift you will be able to use forever. Remember that a simple smile can change someone’s mood. I hope you bring a little more light into our dark world.

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You can be shy. I hope you hold onto a bit of your reservations as you navigate life. Figure out new situations before jumping in. Everything is not as it seems, and a sense of discernment will serve you well. Take time to be sure that you are where you are supposed to be.

You have always been curious about the people you see. We can’t wait to see if your inquisitive nature translates into you really understanding those around you. Maybe you will be able to cut through the pretense and have authentic conversations. I hope you ask all the right questions, and that you seek to know people. Once you know people well, you will be able to love them well.

Whatever life is in store for you, we will always unconditionally love you and support you. We are happy for the boy you are today, and the person you will become. Happy Birthday, special boy! You are a gift to us as we prepare you to one day share your gifts with the world.

Love, Your Mama.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stephanie Hollifield of Momstrosity. It originally appeared on their blogSubmit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

Read more of Stephanie’s ‘crazy’ story agreeing to foster a baby while 6 months pregnant:

‘I vividly remember the crazy looks I got with my huge pregnant belly and a newborn baby draped across my chest. I would stare too. It’s an odd sight, and honestly something I never imagined for myself.’

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