Today you are three years old. As I sit to write this letter I’m surprised by how emotional I feel because its been an entire year since my last letter to you and as is the case with life, so much has happened– and my have I missed writing these letters to you and remembering the moments I don’t want to forget.
Like how we moved into the house you just might one day remember as your childhood home. How we searched high and low for baby gates for the steep stairs and then paused, watching you run up and down those stairs with an ease I have yet to possess walking these very same stairs.
This was the year of cooking. And baking. Confession time: 80% of the reason I bake despite the flour that coats me, and the mountains of sticky bowls to wash, is you. Because I get to see your eyes light up at measuring out the sugar, and flour, at locking the mixer and ‘cleaning’ the wire whisk after we’re done. This was the year you became my sous chef, chopping up olives and feta cheese with a butter knife for our evening salads. You take the task almost as seriously as you take eating. And feta and olives? Are among your favorites and why we sometimes call you our Turkish babe.
This was the year of the spoken word. Yours. You took your time talking but now new words pour like a steady faucet. Questions and observations. Orders and pleas. And jokes. You love slapstick. You laugh with the pure guileless laughter only boys quite this small can do. Of the two languages, English holds a stronger allure, and I’m often tempted to ditch the efforts at raising you bilingual– and yet, at the time of this writing, you can speak Urdu and you understand it completely. And for that? Its worth persevering. You are an American babe born and bred, but dig deeper and there lie your desi roots, I want to nourish that side of you because it is a part of you.
This was the year you went from only child to eldest child. For a time you reacted as if we betrayed you deeply. But slowly you’re warming up, realizing he’s not just a little being designed to take away attention from you, but also your comrade. You kiss me goodnight before you go to bed for stories and songs with your Abu, and now you never fail to kiss your little brother goodnight too. He seems so small next to giant lumbering three year old you, but he will be your greatest friend, your confidante. I pray.
Three is climbing playground structures without my hands to help you up. The year of going to nursery school without my presence to to guide you. School. You wore the green rugby shirt Khala Saadia got you and I waved goodbye when the car pulled away. They told me you cried for twenty minutes. Stopped. And then never looked back. I love that you love school. I love that you come home chattering about the kids you played with and the teacher you whole heartedly adore. Three is beginning the first wobbly steps away from me.
Three is putting on pants and shoes all by yourself. Of picking out your own clothes. Of picking out our clothes. You hate lounging in PJs, a thing we your parents, are quite fond of. And crocs will do if they must but socks with closed toed shoes are the truly fashionable way to be.
Three is hanging out in the pillow nest in the corner of the family room serving alternately as a garage for your cars, oven for your cookies, or a place to rest your head after a long and busy day. Three is cars. And trucks. Lining them up from largest to smallest. In circles. In squares. Lines as small as three, but more commonly much longer starting in the foyer and winding their way into the family room. I love watching your intense focus. How satisfied you look when your’e finally done.
Three was airplanes. Maritime museums and airport parks. Counting jets flying overhead as you swing from our backyard swingset.
And zoos. San Diego and Atlanta. Of smiling at the elephants and pointing at the tigers, but losing your ever loving marbles with ecstatic joy at the ducks that snuck into the flamingo exhibit.
Three was your first bed. Your first Halloween. And backyard garden. Three was sandcastles at Amelia Island and your very first cruise where you informed us every twenty-five seconds that we were on a boat. You know, just incase we forgot.
Three is chai with nana.
Three is hair no longer quite so curly. And cheerios with Elmo. Three is pedaling on any one of your four bikes around the house at all times and under all circumstances and lego towers more fun to break than build.
Three is loving. Three is being loved.
I heard an old song on the radio yesterday. I knew I loved you before I met you. I think I dreamed you to life. It brought me to tears. Because I did dream of you. And there was a very real time in my life I thought I would never meet you. Even now, three years later, I can’t believe I get to be a mother to this beautiful mop-top little boy. You transformed my world. You’ve brought light to my life brighter than a thousand sunflowers and you’ve given me joy by the sheer presence of your being along with a humbling only parenthood can do.
To celebrate your birthday, we made red velvet cupcakes.
Set up the toy kitchen from your nani and nana.
And chatted with your entire family and opened gifts from loved ones near and far.
And I paused. To take in the chatting, grinning, ever-evolving you. There are days you frustrate me, and days when I must speak firmly, but even in the toughest moments one fact is always indisputably true: I am beside myself blessed and ever fortunate to be your mother. Happy Third Birthday. And a mother’s dua for a million more.