Sometime during Rowan's second year I decided I wanted to write letters to each of our children on their birthdays. Later at some significant date, their 18th birthday, college graduation, wedding day, etc. I'll give them all of the letters. Below is my letter to Rowan on his third birthday.
My Dearest Rowan,
Happy 3rd Birthday, Bug. I've officially become a cliche, telling strangers that I can't believe I have a three year old already. Yet here we are. When I think back on the last twelve months I can't help but think how much life has thrown at you in such a short time. You have had one major change after another hurtled at you beginning with ditching diapers. Months before I was ready (22 months to be exact), you began having an interest in a toilet and propelled us into one of our hardest struggles to date. Seriously, sleep training was a cake walk compared to getting you to pee in the appropriate place. I have friends whose children took a blissful 3 days to 'get it' but you were on the 3 month track. I literally had nightmares for weeks and would wake your poor Dad up by screaming to him in the middle of the night that we had to get you to the potty!!! He would patiently remind me it was 2 am and you were sound asleep...with a diaper on. The silver lining? We have an arsenal of priceless poop stories that will serve well to embarrass the hell out of you when you're in high school. Those days are now a distant memory and you're well on your way to marking every tree, puddle and blade of grass in the neighborhood. Now if we could only get you to pull up your pants after doing so we'd really be getting somewhere.
Next came graduating from a crib to your big boy bed which also happened earlier than intended. Right around your 2nd Birthday I introduced you to your enormous full size floor bed. We started with naps first and didn't push bedtime. Initially there may have been some major screaming and door kicking (when we finally sell our house remind me to remove the locks from the outside of your door) but by the third night you were asking to sleep in your bed. And goodness has it made bedtime infinitely better and happier for all involved. You rarely ever wake at night, even when extremely ill. Your Dad and I, and all nine of your favorite stuffed animals, can snuggle around you to read stories together, even if you insist he not wear his slippers or paint stained shirt in your bed, lest it get dirty. Most recently you have taken to putting yourself back to bed as though you're 13 instead of 3 when you inevitably bring me a piece of construction equipment you no longer want to sleep with.
Then there was the first day of preschool. I dreaded this day. Thank God it's only twice a week. Prior to this point, you had never been away from me for more than a few hours every once in a blue moon. You essentially lived in my shadow. So the thought of you being on your own, without me...well I was certain you'd be a mess of tears and I simply had no clue how I would be able to handle leaving you in that state. Fortunately for us both, I never had to find out. The first day of being a Squirrel, you couldn't jump out of my arms fast enough to go play with your friends and ride the excavator. Now you're three quarters of the way through your first year and each day that you drag your feet getting ready I merely threaten that you won't go to school (yea right) and you magically jump to it. And every. single. afternoon at pick up you stop whatever you're doing to run and jump in my arms...my favorite five seconds of the day.
There is no denying you are a Momma's boy, choosing me 9 times out of 10. Some of this is just innately who you are, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm the one constant in your life. This was the number one reason your Father and I decided I should stay home with you. Because his work schedule is erratic to say the least. Until you were about two and a half, in fact, he was gone more than he was here. During that time, you barely let him hug you, let alone get you dressed or brush your teeth. To say this devastated him would be an understatement of epic proportions. He's one of the good Dads that actually wants to be involved. He would try repeatedly and was always met with the same resounding, 'Mommy do it.' But then one day you started asking for Daddy. And although there are still instances when my reading skills apparently trump your fathers, you worship the ground he walks on and relish your special dates to the grocery store and to get egg sandwiches at Starbucks. This Momma is simply glad her back and arms get a momentary break from carrying you everywhere.
Finally, you took the largest change of your life, the birth of your baby brother, with the grace of someone well beyond your years. From the moment you laid eyes on him in the hospital (crying, mind you) and whispered 'I love you, Tuck,' your bond was sealed and my heart a puddle on the floor. Most of my pregnancy with Tucker I felt guilty. Guilty that you’d no longer be the recipient of my undivided attention. That there’d be times I couldn’t be in two places at once. But then your brother was born and I witnessed first hand the unfaltering love you have for him. The way you effortlessly make him laugh. How you instinctively move all the small toys to a high shelf he can't reach. And the way your little hand always finds his. I realize now, that the only thing I should feel guilty about is that we ever considered not having a second child. He is at the center of your every thought and I count my blessings every single day that you two have each other to go through life with. Before you were born, I used to want two girls. Not because I didn't want sons, but because I never knew brothers as close as your Aunt Mace and I are. But now that I've seen the relationship you and Tucker share, I have no doubt you'll be each others closest companion, most trustworthy confidant and biggest champion.
These days you may look like me, but you are your father at your core. Stubborn, hardheaded, short tempered and strong willed. You're also unequivocally kind, brilliant, far sighted, protective, and fiercely loyal, just like him. Did I mention kind? I don't know any other young boy with such an aptitude for empathy. You are the child who apologizes to flowers when you accidentally step on them, whose first instinct is to hug an Easter football pig (yes, there is such a thing) and who always sticks up for the little guy, even if you won't defend yourself. I'd be lying if I said every day with you is all sunshine and rainbow vomiting unicorns. You're extremely, extremely difficult at times. Scream for 45 mins into my eardrum until I can no longer hear after most naps difficult. But those moments are fleeting compared to those that make my knees buckle and eyes well. Yours is a beauty unbound by words or appearances. Thank you for making my life so utterly fulfilling and teaching me there is grace in the simplest of objects, but that objects pale in comparison to those we love. Happy Third Birthday my sweet, sweet boy.
All My Love,