Dear Ian (2 Years Old)

Dear Ian,

Lately, you love the number 3. You say you have 3 eyes and 3 hands, 3 cars and 3 blocks. If anyone asks you how old you are, you proudly respond “tee!” But let’s not rush things, ok? Tomorrow you turn two years old. I can’t believe it.

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Can I tell you a story? We have a Progressive Snapshot plugged into our car right now. It’s this little machine that monitors our driving. If Progressive deems us safe drivers, we’ll get a discount on our car insurance. One thing it does is beep 3 times if the driver brakes too quickly. We were driving in the car with Nanny & Grandma while they visited last week, and your dad slammed on the brakes. Before that pesky little Snapshot even had a chance to catch it’s bearings, you shouted, “Beep, beep, beep!” We all died laughing, but I was completely in awe that you understood exactly what that beeping means.

You constantly surprise us with the small details of life that you’ve been paying attention to, the tiny lessons you’ve been learning. Almost every day, it seems we’ve got a different kid on our hands. But you know what? I feel like a different person, too. As your birthday approached, I found myself thinking not just about what you’ve learned, but what I’ve been learning, too.

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I have learned about teamwork. Your dad and I have very different strengths and weaknesses, but parenting you has been the best lesson in how we each get to use our strengths (and support once another’s weaknesses) to build this little family. You help me understand how well we compliment each other and where we have room to grow.

I have learned about exhaustion. Seriously. All-nighters during finals week have nothing on chasing you up and down the stairs 25 million times while 7 months pregnant. (Also? This seems WAY harder than the newborn phase, but maybe I’ll feel differently once your brother arrives in November.)

I have learned about judgement. I’ve learned how it feels when other people judge my parenting decisions, so I am far less likely to make assumptions about other people’s parenting. Ian, try to always give people they benefit of the doubt, because everyone is doing the best they can.

I have learned about forgiveness. When I lose patience with you, bump your head on the door frame, or take a toy away, you are always back for more hugs, kisses, and snuggles before long. As someone who carries a critical comment or slight offense around like a ball and chain, there’s a lot I can learn from you in this regard. You teach me how to let the tiny things go.

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I have learned about fun. My default approach to life is a pretty serious one. With you, I’m learning that sometimes, all it takes to encourage cooperation is a loud silly noise and crazy facial expression. We have dance parties in the living room, tickle fights before bed at night, and we hide under blankets…a lot. Life is more fun with you in it.

I have learned about grace. The truth is, buddy, I don’t like to fail. Meanwhile, I make parenting mistakes (whether big or small) every day. Just yesterday, I pinched your belly in your carseat clip. This is the kind of small mistake I used to let ruin my day, but I never want you to be afraid to risk, experiment, and challenge yourself. I never want you to beat yourself up for a small mistake. Jesus never holds me to a standard of perfection, so I don’t have to hold myself to that standard either. And for the record, I will never expect you to be perfect. There is plenty of grace for my mistakes and yours.

I have learned about determination. Most days, you wake up with an agenda. You know what you do and do not want to play, where you would or would not like to go, and what you will or will not eat. You challenge my patience and consistency every day. What I’ve learned from being married to your dad is that what I could call “stubborn,” I can also call determined, resolute, and loyal. I see those qualities in you, too.

I have learned about love and joy and patience and self-control, and I have learned that I have so much left to learn.

Being your mom is the best, Ian, and I’m grateful for each moment of it.

Happy, happy birthday, cutie pie.

Love you forever,

Mama

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