Our Owen is FOUR years old! We always try to make his day very special, but it’s so close to Christmas and that can be kind of difficult. So far he hasn’t really minded. This is the first year he’s really was able to understand everything going on. We decorated for Christmas right after Thanksgiving but made sure to keep the birthday thing separate. He woke up to a room full of balloons and was super excited about his birthday right off the bat. He has been asking to go hiking for weeks now so after church and breakfast at our usual spot, we laced up our hiking boots and headed to the mountains. After a quick nap we had just enough time for his favorite meal, cake and presents. Let’s just say he’s already a big fan of being four.
My dear sweet Owen,
I say this every year but that’s not going to change so you’re going to have to get used to it. You’re the one who made me a mother so this day is always going to be an emotional one for me, even when you’re 30. Because of you I am a completely different person than I was four years ago. I cannot imagine my life any other way, I literally cannot even fathom the thought of it. I found out about you two weeks before your dad deployed and you were my shining light for those long difficult months. Every single day you bring me the greatest joy that cannot be put into words. I am a better person and I have you to thank for it.
I am so proud of the little guy you are becoming. Compassionate and sensitive, sweet and generous, curious and inquisitive, smart, cautious and so very brave. Everything I’d hope you would be and so much more.
The first few years of your life have been big for you, monumental. So much has been asked of you in your life but for now I want you to enjoy being four. I have to remind myself of this regularly, it’s because you’re so smart, you know. You’ve adapted to every change and adventure we threw at you – and there have been a lot of them. From living in Germany to traveling the world to moving around the world for the second and third time, you have handled everything like a pro. In every new place and new situation you welcomed the change and carried on with confidence. I’m sure that these things will always be part of your life. I’ve seen you transition through so much in your little life. I’ve lost track of how many countries you’ve been to. You see pictures of the Eiffel Tower in books and though you don’t remember it, you know that you’ve been there and can identify most major European landmarks.
I watched in awe as you you became a big brother. You had more grace and patience than I can say for myself during those times. I’m already certain you’ll do amazing when the next baby arrives.
You’ve been an incredible role model for Della. I think you’re aware of how difficult her temperament can be sometimes and you’re so good with her. She looks up to you and does every thing you do. My love for you grows when I see how much you truly adore and protect her. I do wish you wouldn’t harass her with your next move, but it’s okay – you’re 4.
You are exactly who God wanted you to be, and I am so grateful that I get to watch you grow into YOU each and every day.
I love how you tell me you love me unprompted and climb onto my lap for a quick snuggle.
I love how you spend hours playing with yours cars and trucks and making your parades.
I love that your all-time favorite activity is reading books.
I love how you try to calm yourself down when you’re upset. That makes me so proud.
Even though others don’t always appreciate this, I love that you’re not afraid to cry.
I love our whispered conversations during bedtime snuggles. Someday you’ll be a big boy and won’t want me to lay with you until you fall asleep.
I love that you’re a goofball and I love your laugh. You make me laugh on a daily basis.
Even though you don’t always get it right, you’re usually polite and respectful of others. I love you for this.
You’ve made my heart swell and burst more times than I can count but two major events come to mind. Earlier this year, you “rode the rocking horse down the stairs” (you accidentally fell down the stairs on a riding toy but this is how you like to tell the story) and ended up getting stitches in your eyebrow. I think laying on that exam table in the ER might have been the most scared you’ve ever been in your life but you were SO BRAVE I couldn’t believe it. The doctors and nurses were overly prepared to have to hold you down to fix you up, but you laid perfectly still on your own and did everything they asked. Your bravery and cooperation blew everyone away. The other time happened this week during your school Christmas concert. You got your first dose of stage fright going up under the bright lights in the auditorium to sing with your class but you did it just like I knew you could. I had proud happy tears running down my face watching you up on the stage in the front row nervously sing Baby Jesus Loves Me. Your bravery amazes me, little man. Simply astonishes me. Kind of like your first day of school. So nervous, but so brave because you trusted me that it was going to be so much fun. And it was so much fun, wasn’t it?
Here’s the thing, the world can be a really
shitty scary place (okay, hang on, don’t ever use that word…do as I say, not as I do, got it?) and I often wonder what the future will be like for you. As a parent, it terrifies me sometimes. I want to shelter you and protect you from all the bad though I know I won’t always be able to. For now, I want you to enjoy being four, love life, and only see the good in the world and in people (something you naturally do on your own already).
I hope that you are always happy. There will be sadness in your life, but I hope there is mostly happiness.
I hope that you always talk to us, even if you mess up. We’re here.
I hope that you grow into a respectful, tolerant human who is willing to stand up for others. Don’t ever be a bully or be bullied. You can stand up for yourself.
I hope that you learn empathy, effective communication, and anger management. We will try to teach you about all of these.
I hope you understand the importance of hard work. Yes, we will give you a lot in life. But we are your parents and that’s part of our job. The rest of the world is not like this – you will need to put in work and not expect that things will be handed to you. Your dad is the best example of this that I could ever imagine for you and I think you already see this. He will teach you so much.
I hope that you find something fulfilling to do with your grown up life. Hard work is necessary, but I’d love if you enjoy the work you’re doing (like your dad). Know that we will always support you, so long as you follow your heart and make smart decisions. But for now, you want to be a fire truck when you grow up and I’m absolutely 1000% okay with that. The world is your oyster, my baby.
This year as I write you this letter I am struck by something that makes me both excited and a bit sad at the same time – you are no longer a baby. Each birthday letter I write to you I imagine what the next year will bring, I thought about this even before you were born. And now four years later, I am starting to see. You are a boy who is fearfully and wonderfully made, a unique individual who God created and chose to be ours. It has been a joy watching you grow, change and mature this year.
On your fourth birthday I pray that your life will follow God’s plan – and that I am able to help you see that plan. That God will prosper you with the love of His Son, Jesus. That you have hope in God. That your future be as bright and magnificent as your little four-year-old dreams. That you continue to grow into YOU with the joy that comes from above.
Owen, you are no longer a baby. What you are is a gift, a blessing, a privilege. You are no longer a baby, but as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be. Thank you for letting me be your mama.
I love you!