Dearest Ollie Bear,
Today, I think I called you by my little nickname more than the rest of the week combined. I realized, as we spent so much of the day together, that you're so little big now, and someday soon, there's a chance you'll ask me to stop calling you that for good. You already tell me too frequently that 'I'm COLLIN' when I address you as my little cub.
But for now, today, and hopefully a few more tomorrows, you're my little Ollie Bear, my teddy bear, my cuddly bear, my grizzly bear.
Collin, I can hardly believe that it's your last day being four. I don't want it to be true. I have tried to deny it. I put you to bed tonight and I said "what is going on tomorrow, again? I forgot." You laughed SO hard and said "I'm FIVE BECAUSE ITS MY BIRTHDAY!" I hugged you as tight as I possibly could and kissed you before covering you up, declaring our love, and asking you to please stay in your room and go to sleep so I could wrap your presents.
Today, we were blessed with the surprise pre-birthday gift of time together. We spent a portion of it with your brother and sister, who are your closest friends and also occasional foes, investing our time making memories at a park, and then adventuring with sea creatures and butterflies. Your laughter echoed all around us, as you delighted in wonder and also in knowledge about the creatures around us.
Then, we said 'see you later' to them, and we were given time for just us. It was of immeasurable value, as I listened to you talk about the things you love. I took you for a special lunch, where you asked to take a fun picture with me. You talked non-stop with one of the employees there, who you also asked to have cut your hot dog, to which she gladly obliged. You love people, and it shows. You are a true extrovert in that way.
Mister Man, I know we definitely have our differences There are countless ways that it seems we are exact opposites, which makes for some interesting power and stubborn struggles on a regular basis. You're loud, I'm quiet. You're a firecracker, I'm more of a Scentsy warmer. You're demanding, I'm requesting. You love dirt, I prefer dirtless. You hate pants, I love pants.
But we are also very similar. You love with your entire heart, for better or worse, and you have a huge heart in your tiny body. You care when others are sad and hurting, and you take great care in protecting your treasures. You love to snuggle, to read, to wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket, to sit and watch the clouds go by, to oogle over babies, and to just sit and be still (sometimes). You have great passion. We share that, for sure.
You're starting to really come into your own now, little big boy. It's exciting to me to watch your interests unfold. You play sometimes that you don't really "know" stuff, but the moment my head is turned, you blow me away and share your knowledge when you think I'm not paying attention. You're incredibly intelligent, and it makes me proud. I'm amazed with the way your mind works. You've even begun to help me with problem solving of my own from time to time! Just the other week, I was struggling to figure out how to do a project to make some paint stick on a shiny surface, and you simply said "why don't you paint the back." It made perfect sense. Thanks for your genius, Ollie.
This year has been filled with joy and reunification, but also repeated loss, and I know that makes it a little bit of a tarnished birthday for you. You've been looking for one who isn't around again, and I know that puts some cracks in your little big heart. But buddy, I promise you, even though one isn't there, you're completely surrounded and enveloped by the love of countless others who are, and I know for a fact that God is going to heal those cracks right up for you in time.
As much as I wish you weren't already turning five, and away from your baby and toddler years toward the big, bright world of elementary school, I am thrilled to see what the fifth year has in store for you. You're going to blossom so much more, I can feel it in my heart. It's going to be an overwhelming and wonderful world for us all, and I'm so thankful that I am such an integral part of yours.
Ollie Bear, thank you so much for being you. Thank you for the struggles you provide that make me a better mommy, and thank you for the calm and love you give me all the same. Thank you for loving me no matter what we go through, and for being excited to see me at the end of every day. Thank you for never withholding a hug, even if you're mad. Thank you for showing me love I didn't know I had. Thank you, for being mine.
I pray that we both have patience, grace, and mercy as this next year continues. I know that there's going to be big bumps in our road, heated moments, loud voices, and struggles all over. But, there's going to be thousands of hugs, millions of giggles, tons of kisses, and infinite love. And that's just from me... it doesn't include your brother, your sister, your family, your friends... your village.
I love you, Ollie Bear.
Happy Birthday, when you wake.