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*All photos were taken by Brenda Munoz Photography*

I’m leaving for a Bachelorette party today.

That would happen, right? When we planned it, I thought the 22nd was a Thursday (yesterday).

Spoiler alert: I was wrong. And it was too late to change things.

But that’s okay. I still spent the morning stroking Bennett’s wispy, curly locks— I showered him in kisses and adoring, real-time heart eyes. I marveled as he pulled the pieces of his brand new train set apart that his father and I spent an hour constructing last night— more interested in figuring out how it works than simply playing.

We’ll be heading out to stroller strides soon, where we will have muffins and fruit in celebration of B, then we will take him to our traditional birthday spot for a lunch instead of dinner, and I will still forever cherish the part of this day that I spent with him as one of my favorites.

Bennett means blessed. But man, he is the one doing all of the blessing around here. That kid— he has so much goodness in him. He is kind, and joyful, and loyal, and caring. He is all of these very big, mature emotions at the tiny, immature age of one.

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I love him so. Oh, how I love this boy of mine. My last baby. My sweet Benny boo. My heart never knew how much I was missing him until he appeared. And I pray every night that my heart will never have to miss him again.

When I was pregnant with him, I chose to decorate the room he and Declan would share in a modern Peter Pan/Lost Boys theme. I loved the idea of a gentle nod to these two little boys being wild and young and free. I didn’t realize at the time, just how perfect the theme really was.

Never grow up, Peter says. Well here I stand on the doorstep of an entire years worth of growing and all I can think to myself to say is, “never grow up”.

But I don’t mean that in a literal sense— at least not entirely. Sure, I wish we could stay in this moment forever. But I know that time stops for no one, and I also know that there is so much more wonder and beauty ahead.

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But I don’t want my boys to ever grow up.

Their eye level may reach staggering heights and their tiny clothes may get too tight, but I never want their feet to be so firmly planted on the ground that they forget all they have to do is think happy thoughts, to fly. I want them to leap. Dive head first into the clouds of their dreams and hopes. I want them to live. Live the great big adventure that is life, with childlike oomph.

When I had my kids I realized just how grown I had become. It wasn’t the fact that I suddenly needed coffee to survive and would rather go to bed at 9:00 pm than go to the movies. It wasn’t the fact that I started eating dinner at the same time as senior citizens or gagging at the very thought of Tequila. It wasn’t the bags under my eyes, the sudden drop in care for my daily appearance, or even the I’d-rather-shop-for-kids-than-myself mindset. What it was, was the absence of a spark. The childlike wonder that had somehow dissolved over the years without me ever noticing it had left. It took watching the world through their eyes for me to realize just how blind my own eyes and heart had become. It took crawling on all fours beside them to get a new perspective.

I don’t ever want them to lose this. This beautiful way they look at the crumbling world around them. The world sees rubble, they see pieces that merely need rebuilding. Adults see ruin, they see opportunity. So, never grow up, I say.

Never grow up.

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Sweet Bennett,

The world will try to tear you down because it does not understand goodness like yours. But hold on tight to your convictions, to your instincts, to your kind heart. Never accept the lie that you can’t achieve your dreams. You are so much greater than I can ever pen into words. I love you so. Happy Birthday!

– Mama