Letter to Max at three years

Dear Max,

You said the most complicated sentence I have ever heard you say today, “It kind of looks like a backpack.”

You have an amazing vocabulary and repeat most things we say. Which can be dangerous sometimes, although we are pretty vigilant about what we say in front of you.

Some recent funny phrases: asking me to “sound it right” when you want me to turn the TV up and saying there was a “package ding-dong” when a package is left at the door and the delivery person rings the bell.

You still love Thomas the Tank Engine. Right now, you are very into dinosaurs, fire trucks, and construction vehicles, especially cement mixers.

You sing all the time. You remember songs I used to sing to you at bedtime a year ago. Now you make requests at naptime and bedtime. You have started requesting original songs. You’ll say a random word, such as “snuggle”, and expect an original composition. You started with “Pretty little pigs” and then “Pretty little alligators” and went from there. In fact, “Snuggle” has become standardized (It took awhile.) and is in regular rotation now.

I love how you spark my creativity. I learned how to draw a train (a rudimentary one) because you asked me to. And I compose original songs nightly because you ask me to.

That’s one of my biggest dreams for you. That you will be creative and spontaneous and unafraid to be silly. So, I am venturing outside of my comfort zone to model that for you. In trying to teach you, you have taught me. And that is one of the greatest joys and gifts of parenting.

Everyone says how smart you are. That makes me so proud and I hope you will enjoy the gifts of intelligence and good looks that have been bestowed on you. But don’t let them paralyze you. Don’t think your only assets are gifts given by the whims of the gods that are essentially beyond your control. You are developing many other traits that will serve you well and will, I hope, make you proud in life.

You are persistent.

You are kind.

You are curious.

You are eager to learn and do things for yourself. (Although I still hear the phrase “Mommy can do it” or “Mommy can help him” a lot. 🙂 )

Believing you can adapt to any circumstances necessary, learn anything truly important to your life and well-being, and find satisfaction and contentment in whatever life throws at you – those are the assets that are truly important. I am going to do everything within my power to make sure you have those assets. It’s not straight A’s or a perfect smile that matter. It is friendliness, empathy, and hard work.

You have developed the adorable new trick of trying to hide your smile. It is hilarious to watch you trying not to smile when we do something funny or tell you not to smile. When you found out I thought it was funny, you did it over and over again.

In many ways, you are such an independent little guy. I forget sometimes how important I am to you. But then I get a little glimpse. Your pleasure when you do something that makes me smile or makes me proud. Your hand tugging at mine, doing your best to lead me into the playroom.

You have a little sister now. I won’t lie to you. Even though you were probably the easiest baby ever, I have had an easier time with her. I am in a much more confident, happier place now than I was during much of your first year. Part of that was first-time motherhood. Part of it was postpartum hormones. A large part of it was that I had learned to live in fear and had a deep distrust of myself. I constantly worried over doing the right thing and was way too hard on myself. I did not let myself enjoy the wonderful little gift I had been given.

I am happier now than I have been in years and I think it’s because you inspired me to do the hard work that was needed to repair the damage I had done to myself. I do worry at times that my fears and anxiety might have had an adverse effect on you. Whether they did or not, I am making up for any time that might have been lost. I have so much fun with you, Max. We do puzzles together, read books, sing, draw, play with trucks, and watch TV.

You are an amazing big brother. You have been infatuated with your sister since the beginning. There were a couple of days of standoffishness, but then you glommed on to her and haven’t let go since. You ask to wake her up first thing in the morning. You smile so hugely every time you see her. (And she does the same when she sees you.) You have an endearing/annoying habit of holding her ear. It seems to comfort you. I’m not sure why.

I miss having time for just the two of us. Now that Lucy is older, we are able to have more playtime together again. We’ve even had some outings just for us. We went to a Mother-Son Date night and we’ve gone on some errands alone.

You are so like me. You inherited my cautious nature and my crazy memory. You love to read and sing. You are even starting to be able to carry a tune.

I have noticed a strange phenomenon since you turned three. You are sometimes a pain in the ass. You contradict almost everything I say. You can flip a statement from negative to positive and vice versa and come up with an opposite to ANYTHING. (My pride in your verbal skills and odd relief at seeing you act like a “normal” kid leaven my annoyance.) You are loud and active and chatter constantly. You want my attention whenever I try to do yoga or talk on the phone or watch a show I like on TV, but push me away when I try to snuggle you sometimes. It’s like you got the memo about the threes being way worse than the twos.

Yet, somehow, I love you more than ever.

You may be willful and negative and testing your boundaries constantly. But you are also developing empathy. During the past few days, you have showed concern for your baby sister. I have seen you comforting her. And you are trying so hard to make friends with the cats. I showed you how to hold your hand out to Fort and let him sniff it. You listened and watched carefully. Then, you screwed up your face in concentration, tip of your tongue sticking out between your teeth, balled up your cute, still dimpled hand, and slowly held it out to Fort. You actually kept it still while he sniffed it. I could tell you were trying so hard to restrain the urge to move and grab. You were so proud of yourself. A few days later, after we returned from a trip, you moved your face close to Fort while he was sitting on the kitchen table. Fort leaned down and sniffed your face, what we call “giving kisses”. We were both so excited. Now you have your sights set on Angus, but you have yet to grasp that chasing Angus and trying to pet him is the wrong approach.

I can be so angry with you and then you say something and crack me up. I had forgotten how hilarious three-year-olds are. Your father and I were arguing while we were trying to get dinner ready and you were harassing us as usual. Then you said you wanted the “brown yogurt”, referring to chocolate pudding. You cracked us up and we forgot all of our annoyance.

You are funny, smart, sweet, stubborn, contrary, and incredibly dear. And you are making me stronger every day. I can literally feel myself getting tougher as we butt heads everyday. Learning how to be your mom has made me feel like I can do anything.

Three has been both tough and wonderful so far. You are more challenging than ever. But we’re going to make it through, kiddo. I won’t let you down. Each year has been more exciting than the last with you. Here’s to another. 🙂

I love you, my boy.

Love, Mommy

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