Dear Vaughn,

One day when you’re really mad at me and think life is unfair and I favor your sister, you’ll look back to these letters and use them as reference to prove why it is that I favor her over you. “You skipped half my first year of letters mom!”. Yes, I have condensed a handful of letters into one, but it is not because I love you less. In fact, I’d argue that as a second-time mom, I’ve learned to live in the moment much better (ok those two are not mutually exclusive but bear with me here). With Millie, our lives were chaotic and unpredictable, especially when she faced so many health challenges. You haven’t been without your little hiccups here or there, but overall, you’ve been an incredibly happy and healthy (big) little boy!

Of course there are many milestones you’ve hit in the second part of your first year. You’re sitting, crawling, standing, and clapping. You took your first steps the day before your first birthday. And while these little things are parts of you I want to remember, I mostly want to remember just how you are as a little person. I don’t know if your Dada and I will have another baby, and that has lead me to soak in every single moment with you. I appreciate them and understand them all much better, I know how quickly time will fly by and how much you’ll change truly day by day.

I want to remember the way you look at me when I come in the room after you’ve woken up from a nap. I want to remember how absolutely, entirely thrilled you get when you are proud of something you’ve accomplished and we clap for you. Or the way you chase your sister to every single end of the house vying for her attention. The way Millie gives you big hugs and says “You’re my best friend you chunky monkey” and how you allow her to tickle you and hug on you longer than you typically would anyone else. Even the way you beat on the wall behind your crib in the middle of the night when you want my attention. I want to remember that too, because while those nights seem long, they will soon be replaced by an entirely different version of you.

You see, while it’s great that you accomplish new things, it’s your personality that develops and grows every single day that I try to soak in. You’re equal parts sweet and stubborn, which makes for an interesting mix. You love your mama and your dada something fierce. When I carry you downstairs to see your dada after a nap, you contort your body and lean all the way over and smile, hoping to catch his attention. Lately, if that doesn’t work, your take your hands and grab his face, to ensure that he’ll look right at you. Most of the time you want to be held facing out—you’re quite independent and curious to see what’s happening in the world around you, but you’ll still nuzzle your warm little head right into my shoulder when you want some extra love from Mama.

Your absolute favorite thing to do? Play with a ball. You’ll yell “BALL” (with almost a silent L so it sounds like BAAAA) and chase any ball around the house. You cruise on any piece of furniture or hold onto my finger so you can walk and kick a ball. You’ll grab it to play catch, throwing it at me and then diving forward on top of the ball when I roll it back to you. You would do this for hours on end. It’s the one thing I always want to remember that you loved your first year of life, toy wise, and really it’s all that you care about.

As a second child with an older sister with a very vivacious personality, you have found your way really well. When you want more attention, whatever the reason may be, you make sure we know. You’re loud bud, like really loud. You’ll fuss or just yell out and let me know that something isn’t right. It’s hard to always figure out what it is, but typically, if I hold you, it makes it better. Loud is a great adjective to describe you, because it goes for everything you do. You yell at any hour of the day and let your mood be known. We call you dramatic, and I guess I could turn that into another phrase like “knows what he wants and determined”, but it comes off the same way! I suppose I can add this into this paragraph, and I hope in the not too distant future I read this and laugh remembering how terrible car rides are with you. You’re loud in the car, but it’s crying. You hate being contained and strapped in, and I can barely go 5 minutes before you start to let me know you’re not happy. I’d like to say I handle it well, but hearing you cry in a way that alerts me that you need me, even if I know you are perfectly fine, tugs at my heart and makes it near impossible for me to concentrate or calm myself. I don’t know why, but the car is your #1 nemesis at this age.

You hate eating, you enjoy sticking objects into your mouth to the point of gagging, will fall asleep on your own but prefer me to nurse you to sleep, love walks, hate when anyone tries to contain you, and you live for your family and people giving you love. You give us big open mouth kisses, enjoy trying to bite my nose while you do it, and beat my chest and touch my face when I nurse you to ensure I am still there and haven’t left you.

With all that being said, you’re the happiest guy and really just a joy to be around. Whenever I hold you, I always squeeze you extra tight and you smile extra big at me, it’s a smile you keep on your face long after that squeeze I give. I don’t know if more kids are in the plans for us, so I try to soak in every single moment with you. But I’m not thinking ahead, I’m just thinking about you and loving every minute I get with you. So many days I stop in my tracks and look at you and your sister and think how lucky I am to be your mama. I always hope to be the best I can be to you and if there’s anything you feel, I hope it’s just how much I absolutely love you. You took me by surprise, but man, you’ve been the best surprise of my life.

Happy birthday my beautiful big boy, mama loves you.

Love,

Mama

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