This is the continuation of the tradition we started waaay back when I first learned I was pregnant.
We each wrote our unborn baby a letter that night and committed to writing him each year on his birthday.
This is something I highly encourage every parent to do.
It's never too late to start.
Even if you are not a writer, you will be surprised at what happens when you take a moment of solitude, some paper and a pen (or in my case, a pencil) and just start writing.
You're one year old! I can't believe how much you have changed and grown in just one year. As cliche as it may sound, it really does seem like your mommy and I just brought you home from the hospital yesterday. I was thinking the other day how I felt when I met you for the first time. I held you in my arms and said, "Hi Henry, I'm your daddy." I'm sure you don't remember that. You were a little pre occupied...
In just one year you have changed your mommy's and my life in so many ways. Hutchy, you have shown me a different kind of love that I have never experienced before. You make me so proud every time I look at you. Even when you have a diaper full of poop that has crawled up your back to your shoulder blades. Yes, it has happened...more than once.
My favorite part of my day over the past year has been when I get home from work and you look at me and say "Da-da." Your mommy will let you walk over to the window and bang on it as you see me pull up the drive. My heart immediately melts and I know that there is nowhere I'd rather be.
From the time you first realized you had hands and feet that you could move to to the time you said your first word, (it was "Da-da" by the way), to the day you took your first steps, each memory is one that I will hold dear to my heart always.
God has blessed us with a very special gift in giving us a son like you. There is no doubt in my mind that when he thought you up, he had your mommy and I in mind. You were made especially for us. From your smile to the sound of your laugh, right down to your general disposition, God knew he was making you for us.
Yes, a lot has happened in just one little year. It's a year I never will forget. August 6th, 2011, 5:43 PM. The day I became a daddy. And not just any daddy. The daddy of the boy with the sweetest giggle, the softest skin, the cutest button nose, the chunkiest little legs and the sleepiest baby blue eyes. You have made me the proudest and most thankful daddy there ever was.
Please continue to just be you, Henry. I promise to do my best and teach you all I know. It is my prayer for you that God make you happy, healthy, noble, honest, pure, and a follower of His teachings. I promise to always love you and claim you with adoration in my heart.
It's going to be a fun adventure. Let's see where it takes us...
Oh my, my... Little One, how my life has changed in just one year. I can't believe the time for me to write this letter has come. When I think back to the last letter I wrote you, I am reminded of how quickly time passes. You were just the size of an orange seed then and I had just learned of your creation. You were just an idea... a hazy picture off in the distance. I knew you would come. I knew you would change me forever. But you were so unfamiliar to me then and the idea of writing you a letter on your first birthday seemed a million miles away.
And now it's here. You are here. You. Henry James Jansen. A real life person made in God's image and (this is the scary part) also in my own. You were knit together inside my womb and now...here you are. (It's still hard for me to believe.)
Your birth was surreal. Even though I felt every second of it, it still seemed like the doctor simply picked a baby from under the table then held it in the air and told me it was mine. Even then, in those first days and weeks (or maybe even months), you were unfamiliar to me. I was surprised at how naturally it came for me to be your mommy. But still, I was learning you. It wasn't that instant, overwhelming, immediate connection I was expecting. Instead, my love for you, our relationship; it has blossomed in pieces over the first year of your life. Of course, I think it all started much sooner than that...
Let's go back to that moment when the doctor first held you up. Daddy and I chose not to find out whether you were a girl or a boy until that moment. But I already knew. Like I said, you were a hazy picture in the distance, and I didn't know what you would look like or who you would be yet, but I knew you were going to be a boy. One day, as my friend Emily was reading me names from a baby name book, your name, Henry, jumped off the page at me. And I knew. From then on, whenever you kicked me, I'd involuntarily think, "Oh, Henry."
So, in that moment, when the doctor held you up, even though you felt so unfamiliar to me, I saw that you were a boy and I thought, 'Of course he is.' Then, I said out loud, "Come here, Henry." I'd been waiting for you.
I loved you even then. I did. But not in an overwhelming, connected sort of a way. I loved you in a hazy, distant sort of a way. And I knew it would become clearer in time.
In those first days and weeks, I'd stare at you for hours. You looked almost nothing like me, (though I couldn't deny that you looked like your daddy.) You didn't look how I'd expected yet I knew there was something familiar in your unfamiliarity.
People would say, "What color hair does he have?" And I would say, "I don't know." When you were new, it seemed to change colors in every light. As you grew, it lightened but it kept a very distinct reddish tint. It wasn't Daddy's color. It wasn't mine. It was yours. And as unexpected as it was, it was so familiar to me. And then one day, I figured it out. A few years earlier I had a student with gorgeous hair. It glistened blonde but with a tint of red-the truest definition of strawberry blonde I'd ever seen. And I would stare at it. I was drawn to it. I would comment on it to anyone who would listen-other teachers, parents, the lunch ladies...
I would say, " Is that not the most beautiful hair you have ever seen?" And when they would casually reply, "Yeah, it is pretty," I wanted to exclaim, "No! Look at it! Really...look! It's beautiful!"
How funny. God was preparing my heart for you then. You weren't even on my radar yet but your curly, strawberry blonde locks were already winning me over.
God has a way of doing that. Preparing our hearts, I mean. And that's how our relationship grew. Piece by piece, in God's time, not mine, until one day, I woke up and realized that I loved you. I mean, I. LOVED. YOU. No longer in a clinical, formal, unfamiliar, maybe-someday sort of a way, but now, in a full, joy-filled, unshakeable, clear and physical, real and present, can't-get-enough-of-you, wanna-eat-you-up sort of a way. It had happened. You had changed me.
It's weird to think back to those times when you were just a a hazy, distant, unfamiliar picture. Now, I feel like I know you so fully. You couldn't be more familiar to me. Your hair. Your toes. Your laugh. Your smile. Your voice. Your thumb. Your eyes. Your cry.
You. My son. My Henry.
You've changed my heart. You've changed my life. I can barely remember life before you arrived, and really, I don't want to. You make everything better. You were worth every labor pain, every achy muscle, every sleepless night. Watching you grow has made me grow. Watching your daddy love you has made me love him more. And the freedom I feel from knowing the God who orchestrated it all moves me to my knees. He has taught me love in a whole new way over the past year, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
The last thing I want you to know for now, my sweet boy, is that I have prayed for you. Every day over the past year, I prayed for you. I hold you in my arms at night and I pray that God make himself familiar to you. That you will dream of Him and that you will know Him deep in your heart. In the same way that you are now familiar to me, I pray that some day you will experience a familiar and overwhelming love for your Creator, because my child, this world is a pretty broken place and His love is the only unfaltering love there is. There will be days, (probably many), when your daddy and I will let you down. Friends will hurt you, success will disappoint you and nothing of this world lasts forever. Only our God is perfect and I can promise you that you will need Him.
This verse hangs above you each night while you sleep. I will quote it for you again.
"The LORD your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will rejoice over you with singing. He will quiet you with His love." Zephaniah 3:17
Considering how my love for you has grown in just one year, I am excited to see what the future holds.
I love you,