A year ago, you woke up completely unaware of what was awaiting you — a house filled with family and friends who traveled near and far just to fawn all over newly-one-year-old you.
You managed to conquer over-stimulation, a late nap, and even melted cupcakes (baked from scratch by your culinary-inept mother) to have a pretty awesome day.
And just like that, your second year of life started, and today, almost as quickly as it got here, it ended. It is your second birthday! You’ve been bumbling around on this planet for two whole years! It doesn’t seem very long to you, but I can barely remember life without you. Of course, purely biologically speaking, half of you actually was inside my body ever since the day I was born so really, you HAVE been here with me all this time.
Not even a month after your first birthday your dad and I had the biggest scare of our lives as your parents when you suffered a febrile seizure. Thankfully, I’m sure you don’t remember The Worst Tuesday but I’ll never forget it. The image of you seizing in my arms will never leave my memory and each and every day I am so unbelievably grateful that it was a relatively minor issue. And ever since that day, we know that if you ever have a fever we need to be diligent in treating it so we avoid a recurrence. That was the hardest lesson for me to learn this year, for sure.
A late bloomer like your mama, you didn’t walk until you were 15 months old. Part of that is my fault, I guess, for this reason: I knew that once you started walking, there was no turning back. With the knowledge of this skill, you’d go from “baby” to “toddler” and, just like that, you’d be off. And so I did my best to keep you in my arms as much as possible to delay that monumental milestone, but I could only do so for so long. Now, those fears I had have been realized. You are no longer my baby. You are my very independent toddler who prefers walking (running) to being pushed in a stroller, carried, or worn thankyouverymuch.
And while it is a bit sad for me to say goodbye to those precious baby months, it has been so fun to see you explore this world on your own. Like in the above picture, for example: you can just barely see a bandage over your left eye, which shows how brave and adventurous you’ve become since learning how to walk. You’re still your mostly-cautious and analytical self, but sometimes you can get a bit excited and accidents happen. I deeply cherish those times you let me hold your hand as we carefully take it all on together.
You had your second Christmas this year but since you weren’t eating solid food the year before, you finally got to participate in your family’s tradition of eating waffles on Christmas morning. You seemed to like them a little bit and I, because I’m an emotional time bomb, cried.
At your 18-month checkup, the doctors had me fill out a form answering questions about your verbal abilities, social skills, and motor skills. I was so proud when the doctor told me that you scored above average in all those areas! I mean, your father and I know how smart you are. But having a doctor affirm it resulted in some serious high fives.
You’re so smart, Dax. So stinkin’ smart.
When you turned one, you could only say a few words — “dada”, “nana”, and “mama”. But now, with your first birthday far behind you, you can say so many things; from types of food, to manners (“peez” for “please” and “deeyew!” for “thank you!”), to all your letters and numbers (though, to be fair, “W” is still hard to say and you still believe that 6 is actually 9 but we’re working on it), to our friends’ names (Grandma is “G-G”, Molly is “Mayee”, Casey is “Zee”, and Savannah is “Nuh” just to name a few), to places and things, your vocabulary is growing each and every day!
You also say “no” a lot which, I’m told, is to be expected at your age. It can be cute sometimes but it also gives me heaps of opportunities to refine my patience. And let me just use this letter to tell you thanks for that. Even in frustration, my sweet boy, you are making me a better person everyday.
So, I have to confess something: The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children should not watch any television before the age of two.
I’m sorry to inform you now that your father and I didn’t meet that timeline. You watch TV everyday. Sometimes pretty close to your face. Sorry.
Your favorite shows are currently, “Curious George,” “Super WHY!”, “Dinosaur Train”, and basically anything else on PBS. While I guess we kind of failed as parents in this regard, I’ll say that it has been so fun to see you fall in love with these characters. I’m pretty sure you have a crush on Princess Pea, which is a great choice but I hate to break it to you now that royalty rarely ever marry commoners unless you’re smokin’ hot like Kate Middleton. Not that you aren’t incredibly handsome. I’m just here to help you manage expectations.
Even though you look a lot like I did when I was your age (minus your bow ties) there is one way in which you are distinctly your father’s child: your love of sleep (or “ni-ni”, as we call it). While you’re down to only one nap a day, that one nap usually lasts about four hours and you usually (bad dreams notwithstanding) sleep through the night until about 8:00 AM. I gotta tell you — you’ve set the bar pretty high for any future siblings. I’m certain we won’t be blessed with a great sleeper like you twice in a row. Please never ever ever doubt my gratitude for this trait you’ve inherited.
While there seems to be a million things that have changed since the day you were born, there are still some things that are the same. Your pacifier is the biggest one. You are very attached to that thing. Even more than you used to be, I think, because now you prefer to have not one, but at least two of them with you in your crib. Sometimes three. I’ve capitalized on this by teaching you how to count them. You excitedly shout, “TWO!” when you have one for each hand and it’s obvious that you’re very proud of yourself.
You also still nurse a couple times a day. Some days I feel like you’re just about weaned, but you’ll surprise me by jumping on my lap and asking for milk. As much as I wish I was ready to be done, I’m not. So I don’t push it. Mostly because it usually results in some pretty great snuggles.
This year you have taught me more about myself than any class, life experience, or book could teach me. Not only are you in your “terrible twos” and thus teaching me the true meaning of grace and forgiveness and patience, but you’re also teaching me so much about love and trust. Without even realizing it, Dax, you are teaching me each and every day what it means to be your biggest supporter and also your gentlest corrector. You’re teaching me that mistakes don’t equal failure and that failure doesn’t equal being unloved. You’re teaching me that not only is it okay to not be perfect, but it is preferred. Messy is best because messy is real.
Today you are two and that’s truer than true. There is no one around who is two-er than you.
I love you, Bubs. Happy birthday!