For years I longed for a second baby. I daydreamed about snuggling a newborn, hours spent rocking a tiny bundle of love, holding a toddler’s hand as he or she learned to walk, all things I remembered from when your brother was tiny. And when I found out we were expecting you I couldn’t wait for those sweet, quiet newborn days.

At your first ultrasound, you wiggled and jumped away from the wand. We were so relieved that you were healthy and active and very clearly doing well in there. Each appointment thereafter, you ran from the doppler and seemed to hop from one side of my growing stomach to the other.

I felt your kicks in bed, I saw your tiny foot stomping away during meetings. And I knew then that you were going to be something else.

You entered this world fast and furious—10 minutes of pushing despite being well over nine pounds. You couldn’t wait to make your entrance and take in your surroundings.

At first, you were just what I expected—snuggly and sweet and calm, watching the world and learning how it all worked.

But as you grew, I saw that you were not the quiet little thing I had imagined.

Your favorite place to be was jumping up and down in a bouncer. At three months you learned to roll and scoot, getting where you wanted to go regardless of how little you still were. And by seven months you were crawling—fast—away from me.

I will admit now that I took it hard. Your eternal need to do things on your own seemed, to me, a signal that you didn’t need me. Your brother was, and still is, so attached that I call him my “Velcro baby” and while I know it’s not fair to compare my two kids, I couldn’t help but feel that you and I were missing something. I remember one day I cried to my mom that you didn’t like me, that you wanted to be on your own and go off to do your own things. And she gently told me that you sound like another baby she used to know. Me.

And suddenly I got it. I saw my own life through my mother’s eyes and I felt guilty for the way I must have made her feel with my constant need for independence. But I also felt a profound relief that you and I are going to be just fine.

As you approach your first birthday, I finally understand that you do need to be on your own, to figure things out for yourself. But that you will always come back for a hug and a smile.

You are always going to face the world head-on, ignoring obstacles in your path—both literal and figurative.

You are going to scare me every day with your attempts to climb and run and do things that can hurt you. But you are also going to amaze me with what you can accomplish.

I’ve learned to reshape my thinking about your personality.

You are not stubborn, you are determined.

You are not reckless, you are brave.

And yes, you are independent—there is no other way to say it—but that doesn’t mean you don’t need me—need all of us. If you are anything like me (and goodness knows you are) your family will be so very important to you as you grow.

After all, you are wild.

And you will need deep roots to reach those heights you so long for.

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Dear Strong Willed Child, You’re Worth It

Kayci Villarreal

Kayci is a working mom of two hilarious kids living in Southern California. Her hobbies include reading in two-minute increments and sneaking cookies when her kids aren't looking.