{Ed. Note: I posted this letter yesterday, on Nate’s birthday. But thanks to craptastic, flawed technology, it disappeared from the face of the Internet. So, here I am, writing it again. Ugh.}

Dear Nate…
This morning when you woke up, you called for me to come and hold you. When I whispered in your ear it was your birthday, you told me it was not.
I understand this is confusing to you. Saturday seemed like your birthday, didn’t it? We had lots of friends over. They swam, jumped in your new bounce house, and sang “Happy Birthday” to you.
Most importantly, Saturday is when you blew out your candles.
And you got to eat your cake.
One day, you will ask me what you were like at three. I will show you this picture. Its details tell the story your three-year-old story.
You have always known exactly what you want, but at three, you are old enough to demand it.
Like this cake–the star-shape, the Nutella brownie layers, the whipped cream frosting, and the strawberries–I made each layer according to your directions.
Even with your older brother and sisters crowded around you, even with them demonstrating how to blow out your candles, you did the job all by yourself. Sixteen extra HAPPY BIRTHDAY candles, and you handled them like a boss.
You are the baby of our family, so we will do this dance with you for the rest of your life. While we gather around to hold you hand, show you the way, coddle and encourage you, you are already conquering the challenge.
Except for pottying in the potty. You are not ready for that. Seconds after you blew out your candles, we realized your diaper was leaking on the (white) dining room chairs. This is three.
Your year will be filled with paradoxes like this: you will go to school in a uniform that makes you look like an adult, but I’m guessing you will spend your mornings crying for me.
You will eventually learn to potty in the potty, but you will still love to be held. And when I rock you at bedtime, and you rest your bottom, and its sqooshy Pull-up, on my stomach, it will feel like you’re still an infant.
You will throw ear-splitting temper tantrums, but you will also start to understand a little more about forgiveness and grace, and how much Jesus loves you. All of this is wonderful three.
Nate, every day you leave toddlerhood behind, while still holding onto the bits that are most comforting to you. You can win a shouting match with your sisters, a wrestling match with your brother, beat all of them in a scooter race, jam out to both Queen and Jesus Loves Me, and beam a winning grin to a crowd, singing you Happy Birthday.
And, you can do it all in a poopy diaper.
This is you at three.


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