A Letter to my Jude, on Your First Birthday

December 31, 2022

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My sweet Judi Jude, happy birthday.

You’re one year old today. This past year feels like it has been the fastest year of my life, and at the same time I can’t hardly remember what my life was like before you came along. When I look back at your first year on earth I feel a little bit a guilt at how quickly it seemed to pass. Did I pay close enough attention to each moment with you? Did I take enough photos of you? Did I celebrate and enjoy every milestone with you? Everything feels a bit hazy. I am a second child, like you, and wanted to make sure you never felt like you were forgotten or overlooked.

This past year hasn’t been the easiest for me, but you have remained my bright spot. You give better hugs than anyone I’ve ever met – great big gooey bear hugs that softens eyes and melts hearts. A snuggle from you is the best feeling in the entire world. And you’re very generous with your snuggles. You have four teeth now, all on the top and all rather large. Your big gummy smile is now a big toothy smile, and I couldn’t love it more. You’re quite cheeky, like your brother, and love to be ornery and wrestle. Sometimes you fling yourself backwards in an effort to hang upside down. I’ll do it over and over again with you because your giggles are infectious – and the best medicine for any and everything. You’re a tough guy. I’m not sure if this is by nature or if it’s because you have to be in order to be around your big brother. I’m guessing it’s a bit of both. Either way people are often surprised at how tough you are when they watch you and Augie wrestle together.

I probably haven’t been as present for each moment of your life as I should be, but every moment I’ve gotten to spend with you this past year has made me a better person. You make my heart more tender, my patience more practiced, and my love more all-encompassing. Watching you grow is the greatest gift. I hope I get to watch you grow for many many many more years.

I hope you get to experience a lifetime of milestones, good and bad. And I hope that when you experience the bad ones you know I am always going to be here for you. I hope you come to me in moments of shame and know that they don’t define you. I hope you know that you can always start over, it’s never too late. I hope you know that nothing is more important than the people around you, treat them well, always. I hope you know that people are inherently good and that your worldview never changes that. I hope you know that forgiveness will make the world a better place. I hope you know that approaching things from a place of empathy and compassion is always the right way to approach them. I hope you know that joy is your birthright (I think you and your brother have inherited your dad’s goofy, joyful disposition so I think this one will be easy for you). I hope you always have a bittersweet state of mind, appreciating both the light and the dark; that is the poetry of life. I can’t wait to watch you learn these things. I can’t wait to see what things you teach me. You are amazing, my beautiful one-year-old boy. I love you to the moon and back.

Love, Mommy

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