A Letter to My Son on His 3rd Birthday
My dear Matthew,
“It has not been a good year for us this year… not in my books anyway.” That was the line that kept playing on my mind each time I think about writing this post.
Why? Because mummy can’t help remembering just how often you got lectured, scolded, censured, and disciplined this year. My heart aches at the end of most days, knowing that we had some “Difficulties of the Day”.
Sometimes, I joke with your father, “It’s all downhill from here on!” Well, it’s a joke that references how this year, I watched as you crossed many milestones from being my little baby to becoming your own little person.
You’re no longer entirely dependent on me, except for when you wish to be. You still need this mummy almost all the time, but there are also many times you are willing to set me aside for new interests.
You no longer follow everything I say, but already, you question me, and many times, directly defy our wishes.
You’re no longer all saccharine sweet and meek and innocent like a lamb. Instead, you are often mean (well, mostly to Emma) and sometimes, downright manipulative.
Can I just say right here, how much I miss the old you… my little baby boy, my little, little, BABY boy.
But can I also just say right now, that I am really, truly proud of how you are growing. I know you are really the same sweet, wonderful boy of mine… just that you are growing well and quickly, testing boundaries and finding yourself, pushing your luck with us because you know how we will never stop loving you in spite of it all.
This year, I watched you grow to become my little man.
The one who packed his bag and went off to school… who cried but sang and danced along with the teachers, and made friends and girlfriends and who brought me such delight as I watched you go through all that!
The one who, in spite of not understanding why Emma gets away with stuff that you don’t, and hating that Emma turns Destroyer who wrecks havoc on your exceedingly neatly arranged cars, can look at her with empathy when she’s upset and voluntarily goes to give her a hug, and who bothers to cheer her up and make her laugh, as well as watch out for her that she gets an equal share of food, drink, playtime as you.
The one who makes me laugh by speaking like us and acting like you’re a part of the adults, and not the little man you really are.
The one who dances with me and sings with me; who acts crazy with me and makes faces with me.
The one who reminds me of myself when you ponder about things – like something that I had just explained to you, or just casually mention – and then ask me why I said what I did.
The one who constantly charms me (as I tell your daddy, “learn from your son!!!”) by pulling me close to you for “one more kiss”, who looks into my eyes as I’m talking and silences me with a smooch… and the one who stops me in my tracks with simple demands like “I want to hold your hand”, “I want to hug you”, “I love you, mummy.”
My dear Matthew, I love you so much.
You’re the baby who made a difference to my life, and the baby who made me understand this phrase my mum used to say, 人之出，性本善。That is, the notion that every person is born intrinsically good. I experienced the Truth behind that statement so convincingly with you, for you are filled with so much goodness and love and light.
Once, I had wondered why so many of our friends love you so dearly, especially when I used to pray with you, “Thank you for family and friends who love Matthew…” I didn’t think it was because you are “cute”. It occurred to me that it could be because you are loving. (Well, for the record, you aren’t as loving to everybody now, but I suspect that’s a phase you are going through… I hope!)
Matthew, you are the one who taught mummy about goodness and love. I have also never known what “light of my life” means until you came into my world. You are the light of my life.
I pray that you may grow up to be happy the way you always were before the Terrific Twos and now Threes invaded our lives… and I pray that you will grow up to be ever-loving and kind.
And so, while this year has been fraught with all kinds of anxieties (on my part) and tantrums (on yours), I just wish I could explain to you (a little three-year-old), just how grateful I am to have your love and company as I struggled through the year with your little sister, how sorry I am for the times I have been impatient and even cruel with you, and how I really know that there is no better person to have weathered through the year than with you.
Happy 3rd Birthday, my baby boy.
Mummy will do better the coming year. I will catch up on reading my “What to Expect for Toddlers” and know how to manage my emotions better when yours are all over the place. And there will be more hugs and kisses, and no, darling, mummy will definitely not buy that cane.