Last month, on June 8th, you turned 4-years-old. We were on vacation, and with all of the business that's followed, I haven't gotten the chance to write this until just now.
You, my dear fellow, are the most hilarious, fierce, darling, aggressive, daring, and charming person I know.
Now it's true that your Uncle Joel has much the same disposition, but, as I am his sister (and therefore was only required to babysit him, not parent him), but am your mommy, the challenges and joys of knowing you happen to be of a much greater magnitude. Raising someone of your caliber requires much more grit and determination than anything I thought I had.
It is interesting to me that, of the four of you children, it is you who immediately mirrors my feelings in your actions. If I am peaceful and happy, you are (broadly speaking) a cheerful, contented guy. If, however, I am in the least bit stressed, put upon, busy or otherwise engaged, you immediately point this out. By flipping out over the toy you can't find. Or the person who bumped you. Or the fact that I can't watch for every second the 89 repeats you have planned in your Jump Over This Line On The Tile Floor game. Or whatever.
In the four short years that I have known you, I've learned a very important lesson: when you are the most challenging, it is at that precise moment that I need to hold you in my arms. Tenderness and love is often what you need, even at your most aggressive moments. Nothing that I had planned for the day is more important than you.
When you grow out of this stage, I will dearly miss the fierce hugs you give, and the kisses you smash my face with. I will miss the way you creep under my elbow to cuddle close when I'm reading to you, even when you've said (wailed, even) that you don't want us to read that book. I will miss the way that your face lights up when you come into my room in the morning and find me awake. Your smile brightens my day, and those gorgeous blue eyes have a way of melting my heart again and again.
When I look at you now, I no longer see a baby or a toddler.
I see a little boy. I see a little guy who's growing up at a breakneck speed, and even through the struggles of raising you, I'd do anything to slow time just a bit, to enjoy your innocent, brilliant boyhood for just a moment longer.
When you ask me (again and again and again) to watch you jump off the bottom step, I try to remind myself that it's important to pay attention, because someday it will be the last time. Someday you'll be independent and grown, and won't need me to watch anymore. The fact that you'll want me to watch you jump that one last time breaks my heart...because I realize that I can never know when that last moment is. When you hold my hand for the last time in your sweet, childish need for security, I won't realize how precious the moment is, because I won't know it's the last time. That's the tricky thing about growing up. You can count the first times of anything, but it's harder to know the lasts.
I am trying my best to appreciate every moment with you, I choose to cherish this time when I am Your World; I know soon you'll be grown up, that someday all I'll have of your boyhood are these pictures and the memories.
You are so precious to me. I love you, and love that you have a passionate personality. You often make me laugh, and you've certainly made me cry. When you are happy, your joy is infectious. I love your wild, carefree, random humor.
Max, when it comes down to it, no matter how much of a challenge you can be sometimes, I am proud that I have the privilege of being your mommy. I'm so glad that you're part of our family. I love you like crazy.
Love you forever,