My Dear Baby Boy: A Love Letter to You, Santiago

Dear Santiago,

In less than two weeks you will turn a year old. A whole year has flown by and as fast as sometimes I wished it would go, I find myself wanting to bury my feet in the sand and get stuck in this time. Like a goalie, I want to guard these moments and not allow anymore of them to whiz by.

You are our little baby: mine, Papi’s, and Rafaella’s. It is beautiful to see how much you are loved in this family, like you were needed to somehow prove how much love we have to give. Every morning your sister wakes up and you are the first thing she asks for. Not me or your dad. She asks for you, for your presence, for you to be brought to her room and and put in her crib so she could share that precious space with you as her first order of daily business. She does not remember a life without you, doesn’t care to as if she was waiting for you all of those months before you ever arrived. Being a second sibling can be hard in many ways, sometimes you feel cheated. Not enough time with dad or not enough attention from mom but she is one way you will never be cheated. She is as bonded to you and as protective and motherly to you as we are, reminding you when things are dangerous and informing me when you need help. She is your greatest fan. You were born into a world with unbreakable, unconditional love from her. You will never know a life where Rafaella didn’t love you this much. And that is something that first siblings never get.

I feel so lucky that Papi and I were able to have two totally different experiences with both of our perfect babies: Rafa a surprise and you a decision. Both so extremely special but such unique emotions. I looked at you this morning and held your little hands and remembered how you were so purposefully made: how Papi and I chose you, how I like surprises but for you I planned. And I remembered how quickly I knew when you were already a part of me. I kept that secret for a few weeks before telling your father but I knew you were there. You and I both had our own little secret even then. Is that why you are so sad when you’re away from me, why you cry so roaringly when we’re apart? Because we’ve been so entwined from the beginning; so entangled, you and I, that you didn’t even want to come out of my belly, like it was more natural for you to stay where you were so I could take you everywhere I went. Sometimes I think you would have preferred to stay in there, you put up quite the fight, I’ll give you that, you even made la Doctora come in to get you and drag you out.

Other mothers are jealous of me because you want to cuddle and be snuggled because I get to hold you tight and breathe you in and give you a million little kisses because you ask me to. It’s a gift to have a baby who demands that of you, although sometimes I forget that. And your father could be jealous of you because you steal all of his kisses. I spend so much time adoring you that sometimes there’s none left for him. He’ll be fine. It’s not your fault you’re so cute… actually it’s his fault.

Everyone thinks you look like him. I’ll give him that because while you may look like him, you are my son: hot tempered and fiery quick at it when you don’t get your way, demanding to be noticed, demanding to be embraced. It’s your way or the High(pitched-scream)way. You command attention and to be loved and that doesn’t make you needy. It means you’re someone who knows what you deserve and aren’t afraid to demand it. You have flirty eyes and a flirtier smile and are a social little bumblebee without ever leaving the arms of the woman you love best. You’re loyal to a fault. You like to be surrounded by others but know where home is and insist on it, actually. We all want you to walk, we encourage you, push you, bribe you – but you – you have different plans on your own time. You’ll walk when you’re damn well ready. And no body can tell you differently. Yeah, you’re my son.

You are pure laughter and happiness and smiles and we get to keep you. I find myself guilty of reaching into the years of the future wondering about what kind of son you will be, what kind of man you will grow into, no doubt one that will make us proud. And that is said with no pressure, no insisting that you must, no burdening of how you will. Choose your path. Follow it. Make no excuses. To anyone. Make no apologies either. Even to us. We’re already proud.

I never imagined having a son. I came from a family where I had a sister, where my parents had two daughters, our dog, Fi-Fi was even a girl, so I guess, without deliberately doing so I never imagined myself “the mother of a son” and dreamed about the future when I would be the mother of girls. That’s what’s funny about dreams. You think you know what they are so you mold them and use them to motivate you. They keep you hoping. They lead you in a direction but only so far. Until you realize that the reality you’ve created because of those dreams is so much better than what you could have ever imagined.

You are my reality, my planned for and never imagined son.

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