Did we really exist as a family before you were here, Charlie? It's hard to believe that's true. It seems like you must have been there when Wilson took his first steps or when we took a trip to New York City. How were you not in the background of Wilson's bug birthday party? Could you really have been absent during our first Christmas in this house? You feel so much apart of us that it's hard to imagine you had a beginning.
But one year ago (Has it only been a year? And yet, has a whole year really passed?), you woke me up at 4 am, on your due date, and let me know it was your day. Daddy took a picture of your morning's sunrise and prayed over your entrance into this world.
Another Tuesday baby... All four of us are Tuesday's-babies-full-of-grace, Charlie, and isn't that perfect? We have surely experienced a fullness of grace.
I hugged you tight and tears streamed down. My Charlie Darling. We would have loved you empty-handed but you brought gifts of joy and laughter that our family was so thirsty for and didn't even know.
At one year old, you are the happiest little pumpkin. You love smiling and doing silly things to make all of us smile... it's a rare meal when you don't have Brother doubled over in laughing hysterics. Lately, your silly trick is putting your pacifier in sideways. I'm not sure why it makes us all laugh so hard, but you eat up the position of Clown in our family.
You love playing with balls, and mostly what I find you doing is throwing and chasing them around the house. Sometimes you sit in front of the fireplace and bounce one against the brick so it comes right back to you. What a smart fellow you are, Littlest Man.
Ball is a word you are saying, well, all the time. Your first word (I think?) was dog but now you call dogs ball, too. Some other words you are saying are: Mama, Dada, Bruh (for Brother), fish (This is your clearest word. I can't believe how well you can say it! But what are we to expect with Brother the oceanographer living in our house?), more, book (sounds more like "buh"), uh-oh, bye-bye. Some other words you are making some consistent sounds on, but I feel like I can't really call them words yet: bath, bottle, milk, bear. When we ask you what a cow says you say "ballllllll", no matter how many times we say "moo"--and it's hilarious. You can say "woof woof" when we prompt you and also make something like a roar when we ask what a dino says. But mostly you just babble all the time and Mommy can't wait for the day when you and Brother sit in deep conversation over which is the largest fish in the coral reef.
You do a lot of standing on your own. Pulling up on things and then letting go with the biggest, proudest grin. You've taken a step or two a few times. Your first time was when Brother was sitting in my lap, your place, and you would move mountains to claim it.
But this standing up business is getting you into a lot more trouble lately. You are very into this whole independence thing.
Charlie, you give the best, tightest, hugs in the whole world. Mostly unprompted, you crawl straight towards me, pull up on my shoulders, two arms wrapped around our neck and the sweetest squeeze. You usually add some open-mouth kisses for your mama and I just love them so much. I'm storing them away deep inside my heart.
You love to love on things, and if there is a stuffed animal in sight you are squeezing its neck and giving it kisses. You are mostly drawn towards teddy bears and you have a miniature version of Brother's Baby Bear (that we call Little Bear) whom you adore. Just adore. You have so much love in your sweet little heart, Charlie!
And what a dancer you are. You do this little shimmy with your shoulders and I die every time you do it like it's the first time I've seen it. Every time. Where did you get those awesome moves from? I think you were born with music in your heart. I can't practice piano around you anymore because you cry, scream even, until I put you in my lap and let you play. My little musician. Oh, I love you so!
You are doing this cute thing right now where you cross your feet when you are sitting. Really, could you be any cuter? It's like you're not even trying!
Another silly thing you do is ask for flips. You get on all fours and tuck your head under, bounce on your tippy toes and squeal until someone helps you flip over. Then you laugh and laugh and start over again.
You are eating all solids now and your favorite, and I mean favorite thing to eat is blueberries. Maybe because they are little balls? If you don't have them on your plate at a meal you point to the fridge and say "More? More? More?" until they appear!
You love anything with water... baths, pools, the lake. And when I say it's time for a bath you start jumping up and down and saying "Ba! Ba! Ba!!" What a little fish you are.
Oh, how you love Brother. And right now, he adores you too. You copy every little move he makes and one of your favorite times of your day is wrestling with him on the living room floor. It makes this mama heart so nervous to see you two tumbling about but you love love love it. I'm guessing this is only the beginning of trusting the Lord with the two of you.
Charlie-Boy, you have such a purpose in our family and it's hard to imagine us without you. This year has been seasoned with delight and sweetness and the Lord has used you in so many ways to deliver goodness to our days. Your bear hugs make our hearts swell and the scrunch of your nose makes laughter spill out. So many late nights/early mornings, stumbling into your room to answer your cries, have given me the sweetest moments of your head on my chest. Your fingers grasping around my hair like a security blanket. And we are all tasting the sweetness of a little one who finds home in our arms. I know these days are fleeting, Little Man, so my heart aches as they slip out of my hands. But I also know that I am wide-eyed and finding so much joy in watching you grow. I can't wait to watch the life that God has marked out for you. I'm sure there are hard days ahead. There will be victories and failures and laughter and a lot of tears. But your Daddy, Wilson and I are so glad to be in the audience of it all. On the front lines. We are your biggest fans and we love you so.
We are praying that you would know how wide and long and far and deep Jesus' love is for you. If you grasp that, Littlest Man, even a corner of that truth, you can live in the beauty of your name: Charles, Free Man. You can run wild and free in His love and you have a Daddy and a Mommy who will keep reminding you of the treasures awaiting you in Him.