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A Letter to My Son on His 3rd Birthday

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

Dear Preston,

How is it even possible that you are already three years old?! It feels like just yesterday I was writing a letter to you on your second and first birthdays. A minute ago we were celebrating the fact that you were finally walking—right around the time you turned 18 months—and now? You’re totally fearless; a true thrill seeker. You climb to the highest points of playgrounds; you love hanging upside down on your closet bars; you’re always doing things that make me nervous, and you know it too. Pushing the boundaries; being a boy.

But the thing you love most? “Fwimming!” It’s your favorite sport. You can spend hours in a swimming pool or a lake; you take running leaps into the deep ends of pools (which I’m not all that fond of). You squeal with joy every time you even see water. “Mommy, look, waterrrrrr!” You call the bathtub “my pool.”

There’s not much you don’t love doing (except going to sleep, you’ll never admit when you’re tired). Golf, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, bowling, even hopscotch, which we play together. Doing somersaults, or “’nastics.” You love playing hide and seek. Sometimes you lose interest mid-way through the game and forget to come find me, but I’ll forgive you because you’re cute.

I used to say you were a genius but now I’m sure of it—you’ve been reciting the alphabet since you were an infant. You’re basically reading now. You see words on a bottle of, say, Ketchup or on a truck and you immediately start spelling them out, without anyone prompting you. Your recognition of letters and numbers is pretty amazing. You even know how to spell your own name—I know it sounds like I’m bragging, but it’s true. As much as I’d love for you to follow in my footsteps as a writer, there are more lucrative careers. Maybe you’ll be a professional baseball player…you’re a lefty like me, so there’s hope.

A few months ago it hit me how independent you’ve become. You don’t need me for everything anymore, and that’s hard on a mom. I thought parenting would get easier…it has in many ways, but sometimes I miss the days when you couldn’t do anything without me. Seeing you grow into this well-mannered, kind-hearted person, loving preschool, making friends on your own, developing your own identity, your own jokes, your own laugh, a great imagination and ambition to try to do everything yourself… I love the person you’ve become, but can you slow down a little?

The thing about you that’s never changed is your excitement over everyday things, like pancakes. You still eat them almost every day yet still react like it’s the first time. You have what we call your “excited face” and it’s truly the best. It’s the same excitement when I come home from work: “Mommy, you came home!!!” If everyone could be half as happy as you, the world would be a better, safer place. And even though you’re less excited when I leave for work, I know deep down you understand.

No matter how hard the week was—or how hard the year’s been for us—you will always put a smile on my face. You are the reason I can get through the tough times; you’re my motivation for everything. I’m grateful every day of my life for this amazing, perfect little creature we created.

When you were one I told you I couldn’t wait to have another baby and do this all over again. We still want to give you a sibling—a lifelong buddy to play with—but life isn't always predictable, so even if it’s just the three of us I know we’ll be okay. You have already made me the happiest and most fulfilled mom in the world.

Happy 3rd birthday PG—I love you.