Dear John,

Let me start by saying this- although you’re turning another year older, you will always be your mama’s baby. I don’t care how old you grow to be, I will always give you hugs and kisses and call you “my baby,” because that’s who you are. I know the day may come when you’ll be embarrassed by my displays of affection and you might push me away, but I won’t ever stop showering you with my love. You are my boy. My life. For always.

Today, you turn two and as you should be, you’re so proud that you’ve finally learned how to say the word “two” and how to hold up your fingers to show your age. We’ve practiced so hard and my boy, the day has come and you really are “two!”

On June 4, 2016, just shy of 15-months-old, you took off running. Literally. You didn’t start with apprehensive first steps. When you decided you were ready, you let go and you ran. And you’ve been running ever since. I’m so pleased that I was able to catch the moment on video. I will watch that and over and treasure it for as long as I live.

Your Mam (my mama) says that other than me, you’re the most energetic little person she’s ever met and she ought to know because she has seven kids. I wish that there were a way to bottle up your energy and use some of it for myself because there are days I don’t even know how I’m going to make it through the day chasing after you as you throw your head back while laughing and screaming “again, mama, again” You are always on the go. You are a fearless climber and constantly dancing and laughing. You must touch every single thing because you’re so curious. I’m pretty sure your favorite phrase is “what’s this?” Every little thing intrigues you and I love witnessing your “ah ha” moments when the pieces come together inside your brain.

Traci Taylor

You have the kindest and most gentle heart. You’re just a little one yourself, but when you spot a teeny tiny baby, you melt and tenderly say “aww, baby.” You’re the same way with dogs. Other than daddy, I’ve never known another human who loves dogs as much as you. Something inside of you seems to tip you off when an animal or a person is hurting or sad, or just needs love, and you’re drawn to them. You love to hug- those you know and those you don’t. You also love to kiss people, also those you know and those you don’t. My sweet boy, I believe that you are a healer. I know that as you grow, your tenderness and deep empathy will sometimes make you feel like you’re suffocating in sadness, but I promise you that it will also bring you the most intense joy. I know this because I am the same. Hold on to the joy, let go of the sadness.

I’ll never forget when we were in New York City around Christmastime and while waiting for our bus to leave, Daddy and I let you run up and down the aisle and high-five people. There was a man that other little kids might have found intimidating because of his large stature. Not you. The man stretched out his hand for you to high-five, but instead, you looked up at him with soft eyes, laid your head in his hand and said “aww.” You had no fear of the man who was at least five times your height and ten times your weight. Only tenderness.

Traci Taylor

John, I’m so sorry that your daddy and I haven’t been able to give you a sibling. There’s nothing more we’d love than for you to have someone to grow up with and we keep praying that will happen one of these days. You just love other kids. You get so excited that you can’t stay still when you spot kids. No matter their age, you run right to them and say hello and hug them, even if they’re strangers which apparently most people outside of you, me, and daddy think is strange. John, I’m sorry that not all kids are kind. My first real heartbreak as a mama came the day that you ran to a little boy who was probably six-years-old in the grocery store, said hi and went in for a hug and he looked at you with disgust and pushed you away. You looked at me like, “What did I do wrong, mama?" John baby, you did nothing wrong. I wanted to shield you from that hurt, but I can’t. I’m not defending the little boy, but maybe he was having a bad day. Remember that sometimes when people lash out, it means they’re going through some not so fun stuff that you don’t know about. Just shrug it off and smile and be on your way. Sometimes kids are just rotten because they are. But you listen to me John, that doesn’t mean you get to stop being kind. So long as you are my child, you will be kind, even when you’re hurt. You can cry about feeling hurt with me and with daddy, but you must always be kind.

You little one, are a licker. I thought it was because we went to visit your Mam and Papa and you played with their dog, Milo and picked it up from him, but it’s been about two months now and you’re still licking people. You don’t lick objects (no, those you just shove into your mouth), but you’re a huge fan of licking faces and knees and bellies.

Daddy and I call you our Eskimo baby. You love the cold as much as I do and I’m pretty sure if we let you, you’d play in the snow for hours. You laugh like crazy when daddy blows snow in your face and you love to take off your gloves and feel the cold snow in your bare hand. You squeal and shout out “we-u, we-u” like the sound a police car makes when we pull you in circles on your sled in the backyard.

John, you are everything I didn’t know I was missing in my life. You make me and daddy laugh every day. Like, hard belly laughs. We look at you and can’t believe that we get to keep you forever. You are made of the best parts of each of us and you make our hearts swell with pride. We’re still working on when you throw fits, but you’re two. It's to be expected. Everything is new and sometimes things are frustrating, especially when you don’t know how to vocalize what you feel, need, and want. We are doing our best to be patient with you. We understand because sometimes this is hard for us, too.  We're gonna get through this just fine, though.

Traci Taylor

Happy second birthday, my baby, I love you more than you’ll ever know.

Your Mama