Oh my sweet boy, where do I begin? It’s strange how 365 days can feel like a lifetime and no time at all in the same breath. How have I ever not known you?

You are our dream, the thing your dad and I always knew was missing, the calling we felt from deep in our souls, the story of our hearts. You are the best parts of us, rolled up in bright blue eyes and blond curls. Your smile is contagious, lighting up even the darkest moments. Your adventurous spirit keeps us on our toes, filling our world with exhilaration, exhaustion and excitement. Your giggle is magic and every day you reach out your hand toward me is my favorite day. 

Here you stand on a precipice, fiercely independent and totally dependent all at the same time. You wriggle your way to the ground in one breath and crawl back into my lap in the next. Your legs and arms reach out to explore, but you turn back, seeking assurance. You are eager to experience everything, yet perfectly content to rest your head against my shoulder. You are starting to look like a little boy, yet part of your babyness lingers. I pray it stays there just a little while longer. 

Over the past year, I have watched you learn, grow and explore the world around you. Before long you will be all limbs and dirt and adventure. Before long, your wobbly feet will give way to lean, sturdy legs and you’ll run with the wind in your hair, the thrill of life catching in your chest. Your soft, chubby fingers will give way to strong hands that will have the ability to calm, to help and to hold. You’ll take on a personality all your own and become the man God designed you to be. 

I have so many prayers for you, so many hopes. May you face each day with determination and grit. May you spread kindness and err on the side of empathy. May you never lose your curiosity and zest for new exploration. May you be serious, but not take yourself too seriously. May you understand joy is a choice and there is great power in spreading joy in the world. May you always choose love rather than hate. May you be patient in affliction and generous in spirit. May you dream big dreams that scare you and trust in the God who holds all your dreams and fears in His hands.

Oh my sweet boy, life isn’t always easy. There are so many definitions of what makes a man: what you do for a living, how much money you make or how strong you are. But listen to me, dear one. What makes you a man is the person you are and the person you strive to be. A real man is one of integrity, faith and character. It is one who may be strong, but knows there is also strength in gentleness and understanding. Real men respect others and seek to celebrate their differences. Real men know the right thing isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth doing.

Soon you won’t be so little anymore. So in this moment, on your first birthday, I pause and reflect. I feel your chest rise and fall, your head snuggled perfectly under my chin. I’m amazed you still fit. And I remember. I remember the first time I saw you, the first time I held you. I remember the first time I heard your cry, the first time I saw you smile. I remember the first time you reached for me and the feel of your hand in mine. I remember the way you relaxed as I stroked your back and sang “you are my sunshine” over and over as I rocked you to sleep. 

I reflect on the joy, mess, struggle and triumph that is motherhood. Know I have loved every blissful, exhausting, sometimes gross, second of it. You are the one who made me a mom, who set me on this journey. You have made me love in a way I never thought possible. 

Today you are one. Slowly and surely, you’re becoming your own person. And watching you grow up is the most heartbreaking, wonderful thing I’ve ever done. 

You might also like:

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God Gave Me Sons

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Katie Hutton

Katie Hutton is a writer by passion and a marketer by trade. She enjoys sharing stories about real life, in all its messy fabulousness, wine dates, spreading random acts of kindness and exploring new places. But her favorite moments are spent with her husband and their two boys. Follow her on Twitter @KatieMHutton.