From the first sounds of his heartbeat, to the flutters I felt when he first kicked. From the first strained, beautiful cries to our quiet moments alone in the hospital, me staring into his tiny angelic face.
Seeing his smiles and watching him take his first steps. The hugs and kisses and hearing him say "mama." The feel of his little fingers entwined with mine while I patted his chest and sang him softly to sleep. His clean baby scent. Watching him learn and grow - counting toes, learning letters, and now even writing his own name.
I know we will have so many more wonderful memories in the days and years ahead, but I can't help but look back at this boy who changed my life the instant I knew he existed and feel bittersweet emotions.
From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I envisioned the precious little blond-haired, blue-eyed boy that God would entrust me with. I prayed for him and imagined our life together. You see, I loved this tiny person more than I ever dreamed possible, before he was even here.
Even through the sleepless nights and exhausting days of caring for a newborn, all I can think of was how much I loved the baby boy who made me a Mommy.
For the majority of his first 18 months, it was just the two of us. Just me and my boy. Through heartache, he gave me strength. God knew the exact moment when I would need this little angel-boy in my life. His timing is perfect.
Why then are these emotions bittersweet? Because I know that someday soon, the boy who needs me as much as I need him, won't need his Mommy quite as much. I've already watched him become this independent person who thinks and does so much for himself.
Even as I watch with tears of joy and my heart explodes with pride as he ties his shoes on his own, my heart breaks a little to know that he is taking one step further away from me. Soon he won't look back to see if I'm still nearby. Soon he won't stand in the doorway and blow kisses as I leave his classroom. Soon he won't let me cuddle and hug and kiss him whenever I please.
But as I am lost in my memories, this brave, witty, brilliant four-year-old (who let me cradle him and rock him like I used to) looks up at me with his big blue eyes and says, "Mommy, I will always be your baby."
And I know that no matter how soon the day comes that he needs me less, we still have today. I will wake my favorite five-year old up tomorrow and treasure his "wake-up hug." No matter what, I will always be his Mommy.
Happy 5th Birthday, Mason. I love you.