Shop the fall collection ➔

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.

You may also like:

What’s It Like to Grow Up With a Strong-Willed Sibling?

In Defense of the Wild Child

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.

Our Friend Steve Is Back! Get Ready for the “Blue’s Clues” Live-Action Movie

In: Kids, Living
man in a trench coat and green tie looking out door

We just got a letter, we just got a letter! Except this time, it’s even better! ’90s kids rejoice, because one of our favorite classic Nickelodeon series, Blue’s Clues, is getting a live-action makeover. Not only that, but it will also feature all three of the show’s hosts, which means our beloved Steve Burns will be returning to the screen after all this time! You may remember, Steve popping back into our lives unexpectedly last year for the 25th anniversary of the show to explain why he had departed so suddenly. He hit us all in the feels when he...

Keep Reading

Dear School Bus Driver, My Whole World Is In Your Care

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy standing on school bus stairs, color photo

To the bus driver I do not know, You don’t understand how hard it is to let go of my child’s hand in the morning and hand him over to you. You don’t know how long it took me to make this decision . . . to let him ride the bus.  Some may say it’s brave or courageous to trust another with your child’s life. I sometimes think it can be daring but also really unwise.  RELATED: Every Time I Leave My Child With Autism in the Care of Someone Else, I Worry In today’s world, we must worry...

Keep Reading

Every Time I Blinked, They Grew—and It Was So Beautiful

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boys kissing mother black and white photo

I thought we were prepared, but we weren’t. Not even close. Not in the tiniest, least little bit. When we hugged our precious, oldest boy and left him to start college just a few hours away, we didn’t know what was coming. The waves of emotion, of loss, of pride, of accomplishment. They say not to blink because your kids will grow up. But despite how much we may not want to, it’s involuntary. We have to blink. They don’t talk about this part. No one tells you what to do when you open your eyes again. RELATED: I Blinked and...

Keep Reading

I Love it When You Smile at Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little girl in wheel chair with classmates, color photo

I gained a bit of insight today. We were walking past the checkout at the store this afternoon when we came upon a mom and her children, waiting in the checkout line.   RELATED: A Simple Invitation Means the World To a Special Needs Parent My daughter Chloe rolled by them in her wheelchair. I watched, as I often do, as the children noticed her. One girl about Chloe’s age smiled at her as we walked by. As soon as we had passed them, Chloe turned to me and said . . . “She’s the first person to smile at me!”  Let me say I...

Keep Reading

It’s Okay to Say No to the Promposal

In: Kids, Teen
Boy holding pink sign saying "Prom with me?"

Promposals are cute.  But, even for the sweetest questions, it’s okay if the answer is not yes. I have more boys than girls at my house so the whole meet the boy asking your girl out with a gun posts don’t sit well with me. Boys and girls have an equally hard time negotiating friendships and relationships in high school, and I care equally for both. A young man spent some time, told his friends, made a cute sign, and planned to ask my daughter to a dance. A friend of my daughters mentioned he might ask (and even made...

Keep Reading

I Wipe the Slides

In: Kids, Motherhood
boy on slide

I want you to have the most fun possible at your tiny playground stars program, so I wipe the slides. I don’t want you to have a meltdown if your clothes get wet while I’m gone, so I wipe the slides. I want to have three precious hours of only managing your little sister, so I wipe the slides. RELATED: I’d Rather Serve My Kids Than Have Them be “Self-Sufficient” I don’t want you to feel embarrassed by a big reaction to wet clothes when I’m not there to help you, so I wipe the slides. I want you to...

Keep Reading

One Day You’ll Outgrow Being My Little Boy—But Not Today

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mother and two sons back-to-school picture, color photo

One day you will come home after your first day of a new school year and not wish to share a single thing. Not today. Today, you got into the car and talked non-stop about every second of your day. I was delighted!  One day you will not have countless first-day forms for me to sign and return the next day. Not today. I signed my name at least four times. I was happy to grant permission for you to play sports, learn algebra, and do whatever else I gave my permission for.  One day you will not allow me...

Keep Reading

The Sports Mom Shows Up For Her Kids, No Matter What

In: Kids, Motherhood
Youth baseball game

We’re nearing the end of club baseball/softball season, and the burnout is real. The time away from home, burning through gas to get somewhere for two hours with half your house packed only to pack back up and turn around and drive to the next two-hour destination is insane. I don’t even like the sport right now. There . . . I said it. I’m so sick of softball fields and wind-blown dirt in my face. I’ve seen so many balls thrown in the last two months that my eyes hurt. But I still show up. I love to see...

Keep Reading

Having Babies and Toddlers Is Exhausting—but So, So Sweet

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Family of four with baby and toddler on bed

I took the girls to one of our favorite coffee shops last week and all around me were parents of babies and toddlers. Their little ones ran about in the grassy area out back, toddling up and down the lawn, when it suddenly hit me with perfect clarity—the sun has nearly set on this season for me. It was a realization marked by internal tension, a mourning of the loss of one season contrasted by the joyful anticipation at the arrival of the next. It came out of nowhere and hit me like a tidal wave. Having five kids in...

Keep Reading

3 Common Phrases to Avoid Saying to Your Kids (and What To Say Instead)

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with young boy on couch

Learning to love yourself is hard work. I did not grow up loving myself. Instead, I always felt inadequate, and I felt the need to change myself to prove my worth.  I want more for my kids. I want my kids to know their inherent value and worth. I want to empower my kids to love and accept themselves.  My self-love journey, aided by the expertise of a counselor, has helped me realize there are some narratives from my childhood I needed to unlearn. I had to accept my emotions as helpful and not something to be pushed down. I...

Keep Reading