You’ve been three for over a week. I started this letter to you on your birthday, and added a bit more the next day, and the next. It’s been like that for the last nine days. This is just sort of how things are for you. Some people warned me about this when you were growing in my belly, still diligently photographing your sister every month and posting pictures of her monthly milestones. “Just wait ’til the second one comes along,” they would say. “Try to keep up then.” And you know what? I couldn’t. Things before you came seemed so perfect, but the moment you arrived, I realized that I didn’t even know there was a missing piece until you were in my arms for the first time.
On your last night of being two, I tried to remember what life was like before you and I couldn’t. I said to your sister, “Can you believe we’ve only had Will for three years??” And she said, “Feels like forever.” And it does. Even though I can remember the day you were born like it was yesterday – when I saw the look on our doctor’s face as she said, “We’ve got a tight cord here, Dad, but I’ve got this.” I saw your dad’s eyes flash with fear as he saw you and I waited. I waited to hear you. And after the longest few seconds of my life, you cried out for me. I didn’t even look at you – I just held you tight against my chest while your dad took our picture. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t let go…and the first time I saw your face was on the back of a camera. “He looks like my dad…” your father said. “Then his name is William,” I replied.
You call yourself “William” even though we call you “Will”. It’s because your sister calls you “William” and you do pretty much everything she does. You’re a bruiser, a klutz, a panic attack waiting to happen. I helicopter over you in a way that is so unlike me, but I’m afraid for you all the time. I shouldn’t be, because you’re tough and strong. You’re hilarious when you aren’t trying to be. When you finish a juice box, you rip the straw out and squeeze the rest right into your mouth. Then you crush the box and throw it to the ground. College is going to be interesting. The charisma and charm you posses is not lost on you one bit, and you smile and greet strangers everywhere we go. To you, they’re just friends you haven’t met yet. I love your imagination and your adventurous spirit. You started walking at nine months and then you started to run and run and run. Sometimes I think you won’t ever stop running. But then all at once you’ll stop and lean into me, looking up at me with your big, sweet eyes and say, “Mama? I need you.” You need me a lot. Sometimes, particularly when you’ve latched onto my leg and won’t let go, it’s too much and I ask you for some space with a deep sigh. Then later I always regret it because you’ll only need me like this for so long and I don’t want to waste it.
Your first word was “Batman.” Again, your sister’s influence. Now you love superheroes, and Ninja Turtles, and trains and trucks and pretty much anything “boy.” You run around the house belting out parts of songs while kicking the air and yelling, “HI-YA!” But you like to play babies with your sister and once this passed spring, you put on her tutu and spun around in it. You can be so gentle sometimes and you love to love. You’ve learned “I love you” in sign language and you wave your hand around at me saying, “Mom! I love you!” every day. Some mornings I come downstairs and you take a deep breath in and exclaim, “You’re so beautiful, Mom!” Then you get pretty much anything you want by doing that and it never gets old.
Last month, you climbed into our bed for the first time and I woke up holding you. I’d never held you all night before and when I woke up, I knew I should have lifted you up and moved you back to your bed – but I couldn’t. I wouldn’t let go. And I don’t think I’ll ever be able to.
My sweet little boy, you are the last piece of my soul that was missing and made me whole. You are my laughter and my joy. As you sleep, I listen and with every little breath, I wish the world for you. And even though your letter was late, your pictures are late, and your mom is always a little late now, my love for you is always there. Happy Birthday, my little man.
All good things, darling.