Dear Sweet Boy,

As of a few months ago, you are officially on the “other side” of two-and-a-half. You are now exactly two years and nine months old, which means that in just three short months, I will somehow be the proud parent of a three-year-old.

I don’t know how this happened. It seems like just yesterday we brought you home from the hospital, those early days an exhausting mix of awe and sleeplessness.

I still remember how impossibly small you seemed and my surprise that despite all the warnings to the contrary, we needed those newborn clothes after all.

I remember my first time taking you to the grocery store. You were asleep, so I kept you in your car seat. Having no idea where to put you, I figured inside the cart was safest.

Of course, once I put you there, your car seat took up about 85 percent of the available cart space. Being a brand-new mom, I had no idea what to do next. So, we left without groceries that day.

There was so much trial and error and questioning my instincts. You were this little mystery that I was in charge of cracking.

At the same time, it feels like it’s been a lifetime since those early days, especially when I look at you now and see a little boy instead of a baby, a whole person with thoughts and opinions and a passport.

So here we are at almost three. I don’t know how it happened, and though I celebrate every day of your life and look forward to each new milestone you cross, I’m not sure I’m ready for three.

I’ve heard all the horror stories about “threenagers,” and while I’m more of a wait-and-see kind of gal when it comes to parenting warnings, I have a feeling that three may live up to its reputation.

And that’s part of the reason I want to soak up two a little longer. 

Sure, two has had its challenges. You’re bigger, you’re louder, and you’re definitely more demanding.

No judgment, child. We’re all a little demanding sometimes.

This year brought tantrums and defiance. It brought hard opinions on food, activities, and television programs.

Gone are the days I could watch HGTV in peace while you’d play nearby. Nope, now when the television is on, it’s a steady stream of Thomas and Friends, superheroes, and YouTube kids.

This is the age that brought us naptime regression and the intentional pushing of buttons.

But two has also brought so much joy. 

Two was the first year I knew you’d be excited for your birthday party.

While I spent just a few days planning your first birthday, I spent months carefully planning your second knowing that while you may not remember it, you’d love and recognize your Elmo cake and decorations.

This was the age that magnified your fun yet sensitive personality. It was the age that brought us silly comments followed by your adding “I’m only joking” and gales of laughter.

Two was the year you were able to express your love for animals, soccer, and bouncy castles.

It meant no longer being able to dress you exactly the way I wanted because you suddenly had an opinion on the matter.

Two was the age you first wanted to wear your Batman pajamas in public.

It was the year I sent you to school picture day in a rumpled blue t-shirt because your nice shirts were “too itchy.”

Two was the age you started stringing together full sentences and communicating complex thoughts. It was the age I finally stopped guessing what you wanted because you were fully capable of telling me.

Even now, I can’t believe that you’ve gone from being a tiny creature who slept 17 hours a day to someone with whom I can have a full conversation—even if that conversation is just me explaining why you can’t have M&Ms for breakfast . . . or lunch . . . or dinner.

Two is sensitive and sweet.

It’s a little bit of big kid, but it’s also a gentle mix of babyhood.

It’s soft hair and soft cheeks. It’s tiny hands that still grasp mine, and a little head that rests on my shoulder without a hint of self-consciousness.

Two is having dozens of boxes of baby clothes and knowing it won’t be long before your current wardrobe is collecting dust.

Two is bypassing the bottles and onesies, but still stopping in the diaper aisle.

It’s singing lullabies and playing dress-up.

It’s knowing how quickly time passes. It’s soaking up innocence that will be gone before long, and wishing so hard I could contain it forever.

It’s writing you a letter telling you how much I love you and hoping you know you’ll always be my baby and my “2” long after these days have passed.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Candace Alnaji

Candace is a workplace civil rights attorney, writer, and proud mom of three. Her musings on work and parenthood have appeared in numerous places around the web. In 2019, she was named one of Working Mother Magazine's Top Working Mom Bloggers. Candace can be found writing about law, motherhood, and more on her blog as The Mom at Law. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.