Dear Jackson and James:
I wish I could say that I wrote this post on your birthday — September 16th. I did not. I wish I could say you had perfectly up to date baby books, frame worthy pictures from every birthday month complete with themed stickers stating the month, and a complete log of your miraculous existence.
You don’t. Instead you have this blog.
I know you have a lot more than most second and third children born in any century (and for any kids after the third … I think they just show those poor kids pictures of the first, second or third and say that’s you … ) … but I fall far short in some areas. But where I do not now — nor will I ever — fall short is in the magnitude of my love for both of you. I love you so much it hurts when I think about it. A most amazing kind of hurt. If I find myself thinking about the possibility of my life without you, I end up in a puddle of my own tears. If nothing else ever happens to me for the rest of my life, I’m okay, because the greatest things already have and their names all start with the letter J.
I know your Daddy feels that way, too and I can tell you that our mutual love for you, our family and the life we are trying to build for you is what moves us out of bed every single morning. And no matter how many things I forget to do or don’t have time to do or just don’t feel compelled to do (smash cakes and first birthday parties come to mind) I hope you will always know that. My love for you knows no bounds and it gets stronger every day even as you pull my hair, rip out my earrings and pry my glasses off my face. Even on days when you would rather be in your Daddy’s arms than mine — like here:
MADRID, SPAIN – September 2014 (blog coming soon)
Jackson, you could technically walk before your first birthday, but you still prefer to crawl. You like to take 5-10 steps at a time, you prefer to have me put you down on your feet and you use a pacifier more than your brother. You are impatient. You are extremely curious. You make a noise when you want something that sometimes feels like nails on a chalkboard. There are days I pray for that sound to end, and yet I know when it does I will probably cry. People mistake you for a girl because you are so handsome, and we have yet to cut your beautiful hair. Your smile is infectious. So is your laugh. You have a truly wicked sense of humor, even at 1. I love it when you crawl in my lap and bury your face. I love how you sleep with your head cocked back. I love when you try to run away from me with your super-crawl. I even love how you torment me by rambling Da-da-da-da-da even though I know you can say Mama. Your Daddy and I have decided that you are so curious, so adventurous and so independent (except when you won’t let me put you down) that you will probably be “Skyping” or “Vibering” (if these do not go the way of the 8-track tape player) us from Belize or Macchu Picchu on your 21st birthday.
James, in the words of a very wise pediatrician (yours) — you’ll walk when you have somewhere to go. You look at the walker, but you still find it easier to navigate it on your knees. You use a pacifier because your brother does. You enjoy sending him into a fit of baby rage by taking it out of his mouth and putting it into yours. You are curious in a more methodical way than your brother. You are incredibly musical and can keep a beat whenever music comes on. You are not impatient, until you are. Then everyone should definitely take cover. Your red hair is amazing. I can’t believe I have a child with such a mane. Your smile is infectious and so is your laugh. This is something you share with your brother. I feel as though I need to carry around a recording of you and Jackson laughing — titled Claire de Dumplings Laughing. The sound can change the course of an entire day. You have a fairly dry sense of humor, quite different from your brother. He’s Steve Martin and you’re a little more Louis CK. I love it when you hug my leg as if I am the only person in the world worth knowing. I think your first word is going to be ball or Bali or babble. You love saying Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba very loudly with the occasional Da-da just to irritate me. Your Daddy and I have decided that you are slightly more reserved than your brother, at least right now. You do not tend to go catapulting off of things and operate from a much more tactical and careful position. On your 21st birthday, you will come over from your apartment across the street and Skype or Viber your brother with us — or perhaps we’ll all get together by connecting via our watches? Who knows …
Just know all silly parental assumptions contained in the above paragraphs are subject to change daily. What we most hope is that both of you grow up to be exactly who you are meant to be. You will not be good at everything. No one is. You will suffer disappointments that will seem unbearable at the time. But you’ll bounce back. Most of us do. But when you find the things you are good at we hope you do them with the kind of passion and energy that comes from doing the things we love. We hope you strive for excellence in all the things you choose to do. We hope you can lead and follow. The best leaders can. We hope you’re a good friend, not only to each other, but to all those you choose to call friend. We hope you bear hug life when you get out of bed most days. We hope you work hard and play harder. We hope you love books as much as we do. We hope you love music as much as we do. Mama hopes you continue to love fish, eggs and avocado. Daddy is not allowed to tell you what he thinks about this. We hope that we can teach you enough about life to help you navigate the rough spots, and perhaps not make some of the same mistakes we did. We hope that no matter how far you roam or where the world takes you — in your heart you will believe there is no place like home and there are no chicken n’ dumplings better than your Mama’s.
We also hope that you become neater eaters as time goes on …
For the record — on your first birthday I made you homemade blueberry pancakes and your Granny and Grandpa brought you some Texas-style brisket (the only style worth eating) and macaroni and cheese for dinner. I let you have Nothing Bundt Cake for dessert, which you thought was awesome.
Love you to the moon,
P.S. I made this not-at-all-short picture montage video of your creation into your first year. For those willing to sit to 16:51 of adorable pictures of my children, you must do so on a desktop computer. I love this music, which is why I use it. I hope you love it too. Thanks, Brad Paisley, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Uncle Kracker and Rascal Flatts for making montage worthy music and not completely silencing it on YouTube.