open letter to my firstborn son on his third birthday.

Dear Dax,

Few things can drag a group of people outside in South Florida in mid-July, but a year ago, friends and family gathered under the weight of the bullying heat and humidity to celebrate your birthday.

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We swam in the pool (though you kind of hated it), ate Chick-fil-A and cupcakes, and showered you with presents (mostly Spider-Man themed).

And just like that, you were two.

We finished out the summer by doing what you do; staying up way too late to catch the sunset on the gulf and splashing in the waves.

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And as summer made a way for the fall, we started a year that was going to be full of crazy changes. And you took them all in stride.

First, a month after your birthday, we took you to Open House at your new school, The Village School. You were starting Pre-K 2 in the fall for two days a week and so we took you to meet your teacher, Ms. Amy.

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I felt like my heart was in a vise the entire time, but you had a blast. You loved Ms. Amy and her puzzles that day and you loved them every day afterward.

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You and I were both a bit nervous at first. As a matter of fact, the first few months, you cried whenever I would drop you off. But before long, you couldn’t wait to get to school to play with your friends Annabelle, Drake, and Zion.

You got your first big boy haircut a few weeks later in preparation for your school pictures. I was a bit worried you would squirm too much, but you did so well! Everyone in the hair salon said you were such a good two-year-old.

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I think it turned out pretty good, don’t you?

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A month after you started school, you and I went to Target by ourselves to get a pregnancy test while Dada was napping. After I put you down for a nap, I took the test, and we found out that you were going to be a big brother! You were so excited, and so were we!

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You loved going to the doctor to hear the heartbeat (or “heartbeep” as you called it) of the “baby in Mama’s belly” and whenever we would visit my OB, you would crack up the entire office because you loved to talk to everyone. You also insisted that you be weighed every visit just like Mama. You loved to see the numbers on the scale pop up whenever you would step on, and we loved watching you grow right alongside me.

With pregnancy, my milk supply began to finally diminish so my body could put forth all of its energy into carrying your younger sibling. So it came time to wean you. On my birthday (because I’m a masochist, I guess) we snuggled right before bedtime and you asked to nurse. And I told you that Mama’s milk was all gone, and you said okay, and then you lay your head on my chest. I put my arms around you and heaved silent sobs into your blonde hair, mourning the last real component of your baby phase. But after it’s all said and done, I’m so proud that I nursed you until you were well over two. I wanted to make sure you got as much of that liquid gold as possible.

This year was the first year you really understood holidays. First was Halloween, and when you figured out that all you had to do was dress like Spider-Man and people would give you candy, you were hooked. We took you to a Trunk-Or-Treat at your school and saw so many other superheroes, but none of them owned it like you did.

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You kept the entire costume — including the mask — on until we had to peel it off of you at bedtime. You were COMMITTED. Other kids were tearing their costumes off in the parking lot, but not you.

Thanksgiving was impressive because, despite being an extremely picky toddler, you actually ate pretty much everything on your plate. And then came Christmas…

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Christmas this year was nothing short of magical. You had sparked an interest in Thomas the Train, asking to watch him everyday, so your dada and I got you some train tracks and some Thomas toys to open on Christmas morning and You. Were. OBSESSED.

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For a week and a half, you wouldn’t eat or sleep. You just wanted to play with your trains and nothing could take you away from them. It resulted in some pretty epic meltdowns, but we eventually settled into a rhythm with Thomas.

To this day, you will play with your trains all day. Everyday. And your collection has expanded, thanks to your father’s inability to restrain himself whenever he stops by Walmart, Target, or Toys-R-Us. Just a few weeks ago, he moved all your toys into your room because our living room had all but turned into the Isle of Sodor.

It is so fun to watch you experience the world for the first time. We took you to the zoo this year, and to this day, you still remember watching kids feed the giraffe lettuce. You always remark about how you ALSO eat lettuce, but when you do, you eat it with ranch. (Maybe the giraffe could take a few pointers from you.)

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You also love the Children’s Museum and if I had more money I’d take you there more often.

Soon, we found out who was growing my belly. It was a baby brother for you! And we named him Case!

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We let you be the one to tell everyone on social media all about your baby brother because you were just so excited. I wasn’t sure how you would be once the baby was actually born, but while I was pregnant, it was so fun to see you fawn over the baby in my belly.

As the year progressed, so did your independence. You wanted to do everything yourself. And as I got rounder and rounder with your baby brother in my belly, I wanted to pull you even closer. You were my first, and the old adage is true that there is just something different about your first. So I would take you out on dates, just the two of us, so you would know how much I loved you and how that wouldn’t change, even with the introduction of another baby. A typical two-year-old, you were no stranger to time outs and reprimands, but on our special dates when it was just the two of us, you were polite. You obeyed. You stayed close. You listened. I think you appreciated the time as much as I did.

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Your last day of Pre-K Two was an eventful day. Not only did you get to celebrate Water Day, and not only did we find that you grew what seems like a whole foot, but I also went to the hospital with contractions as I was in early labor with your brother.

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A few days later, on June 6th, your brother Case Daniel came into this world and, let me tell you, I was so nervous. I felt so guilty making you share me and your father with a sibling. I had prepared myself for you to act out, be jealous, and to turn into a terror. But none of that happened. Dax, you were made to be a big brother. Watching you love on Case has been one of the biggest blessings I’ve received as a mother.

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Your dad was feeling a bit ambitious when we brought Case home from the hospital because he decided that was when he was going to potty train you. I think you loved the extra attention it got you, especially since I was basically out of commission with a new baby, but man. Talk about stress.

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Oh and potty training killed your naps. And it makes me so sad. As cute as you look in big boy undies, I’m not sure they’re worth this casualty.

Yesterday, a day before your actual birthday, all of us took you to the Naples Train Museum to celebrate. GG even came down for the occasion! We also met up with your best friend Evelyn and her family and had a blast watching you play and ride a real train! The museum even had a Thomas train which, of course, is what you loved most.

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After the train museum, we took you to Chick-fil-A so you and Evelyn could play. When it got too overcrowded with kids, we took you home where you opened up all your presents (all Thomas-related, except the super sweet BIKE you got from JJ, Uncle Marc, Aunt Katie, and Uncle Brian) and then played with them until dinner time. We had your favorite (Mac and Cheese) and then capped off the night with (of course) a Thomas birthday cake.

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When I took social psychology in college, I learned that humans’ personalities are pretty much solidified once they turn three. If that is the case, I’m so happy with the person you’ve become. You’re sweet, compassionate, and empathetic, but also strong-willed, stubborn, and independent. A beautiful combination of your father and I.

Dax, every year with you gets better. It is such a joy to watch you come into your own. I can’t wait to see what this fourth year has in store for you.

I love you so much! Happy birthday!

Love,

Mama.

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