You wake up everyday before 6 am. I try to get you to sleep later, but you are an early riser just like your sister was. Often you will lay in your bed and play with your toes, cooing and talking. Sometimes you cry and your dad goes to comfort you, giving you a pacifier while you drift back to sleep.
I don't usually see you until 6:30 am or so. Your dad brings you to me from your bed in the living room. You sleep on a pallet, tucked away between the couch and a now empty bookshelf, but you don't seem to mind the floor.
Those first few minutes each morning are my favorite. You are always so happy to see me and of course, you are starving! You and I snuggle up in bed while you alternate between eating and smacking your lips trying to get me to smile. You have so much joy.
After you eat we join the rest of the family in the kitchen. I put you in your bouncer on the kitchen table. You refuse to lay down, preferring to sit straight up and reach for your toes, listening to the breakfast table conversation.
You love being in the middle of everyone. I often put you on the floor during the day. You like having your brother and sister crowd right around you, leaning in far enough that you can grab their ears. They squeal with delight, kissing you just like mommy does.
Cupcake loves to hold you too. She tries to pick you up when you fall over and always wants you to sit in her lap. I love seeing the kindness she has toward you, and I encourage her efforts, even if they are less than effective. She is only 15 months older than you, and you are growing so quickly!
Rooster is more interested in wrestling with you. His knees straddle your little body, as he leans down next to your face and mimics the baby noises you make. He squeezes your cheeks between his palms and laughs as you try to stick his fingers in your mouth.
It used to make me nervous having them so close to you, but as you thicken up around the middle I worry less, and laugh more. I want you to know this kind of sibling love that is so different from my own. And I want them to learn how to treat someone younger and weaker than themselves.
They are learning kindness, and you are having fun!
Then I give you a pacifier, and a blanket, and I leave. You cry every time. In fact, you scream, and it breaks my heart. I quickly shut the door and stand on the other side, praying that you will go to sleep quickly. At that moment I always second guess myself. Always.
But then it's over. A few minutes is all it takes for you to simply settle in and go to sleep.
Except sometimes you don't. You continue to cry, and when that happens I know that what you really need is me. I sneak back into the room and pick you up. You laugh and kick your legs in pure excitement as I hold you close and offer to nurse you. Sometimes you eat. Sometimes you just lay there and try to grab my nose. We snuggle and pretend like it's just you and me in the whole wide world.
A few minutes is all it takes. I lay you back down and walk away listening to you scream, again. But this time you are asleep before I shut the door, angry that I have to go but secure enough in my love to just sleep.
This cycle repeats itself all day long, Waking and eating, giggling, playing, and finally sleeping.
But do you know what I love the most?
It's the way your face lights up when I walk into the room. You know me. I'm the one who feeds you, holds you, kisses you, and changes your diaper. I comfort you when you are startled and protect you when you are scared. I play with you and tickle you and make you laugh. It's all me, everyday.
The more practice I get at this mothering thing, the more I begin to understand this beautiful relationship we have. It's more than simply caring for you, making sure your needs are met. It's about showing you so much love you can't help but squeal with delight every time I walk into the room.
For nine months I carried you in my womb. I prayed for you and labored for you. I was your whole world. And now that you are here and growing quickly, I know that the time we have together, just you and me, is so short. Soon you will be running away from me as I call your name. You will eat from the table and drink from a cup. And the highlight of your day will be your dad walking in the door from work, ready to play.
You won't want just me. This special bond that links you so closely to my heart will fade away to be replaced with something new and distinctly grown-up. It's happened twice before and at the time I honesty didn't know what I was going to miss.
It's tiresome to be needed all the time. It can make for long days and sometimes sleepless nights. However, I know how heart breaking it is to hold your sweet toddler while they sleep and wish they would just stay small enough to hold forever. I'd give anything to nurse those babies just one more time. And yet they keep growing.
So know this my sweet baby boy, I cherish these days with you. They are not always easy, but they are precious. I cherish the time you spend in my arms, laughing, eating, and playing. I cherish the joy and fun you bring to my life, and even your constant desire for attention. I cherish these days because they are a gift from God for you and me. Not every baby is loved so much, and not every mom gets to share in the beautiful closeness we have together.
This gift is unmerited favor. God's very first gift to you is LIFE here in my arms.