The best days were when you were a newborn. I just held you and snuggled you and breathed you in. You slept and you cuddled and you nestled in my arms and all we needed was each other.
The best days were when you were a baby, and I could watch you discover the world — emotions, fingers, colors, toys, feet, people, sounds, smells, characters, textures. Everything was a wonder to you, and you were every bit of amazing wonder to me.
Then the best days when you were a toddler. Sure, it was hard — you developed and expressed strong opinions, but the way you toddled around and interacted and connected melted my heart every minute. And you napped, like an angel! In your crib or the bed or the couch or snuggled up on me, and you were all I ever wanted.
The best days were really when you were learning to talk. You still say some words not quite right and I refuse to correct you because you sound just so darn cute, and I know you’ll learn them in due time.
Maybe the best days were when you were in pre-school. So many new milestones, new puzzles, new songs, new ways of playing with friends. So much that you learned, and so much more to learn after that.
The best days actually seem to be while you’re in kindergarten. Such a big kid now, even riding the bus, feeling empowered to buy hot lunch, being silly and warming teachers’ and friends’ hearts with your kind smile. I tell you every day that I love you more than the whole universe . . . and then we talk about how much love that really is. It’s a lot. A lot lot lot.
But the upper grades really are the best days. You’re trying new things — sports, clubs, adventures. You tell me different stories now — mostly only when I ask. You’re making choices, and I’m letting you . . . with guidance as I’m trying to be the best I can at raising good humans. You’re starting to care what your hair looks like, or if your pants look cool. And I love you more than the universe.
I’m guessing junior high brings the best days. I know people say middle school and junior high is the beginning of letting go. That makes me cry, so I’m thinking of it instead as watching you flourish. Will you end up dating someone? Will you struggle in school? Will you be happy with who you are? Will you be happy in general? Will you try your best? I hope so. And I can’t wait to find out. I’ll have your back, and I’ll always and forever be open for hugs and holding your hand, even if you don’t want anyone to see or know.
Wait — high school. Wow. It’s coming fast. I bet those are the best days. You have so much to learn and will see more and more that you have so much potential, so much to offer the world with your kind heart, sense of humor, and utter determination.
I wonder if you’ll go to college? Those seem like they’ll be really hard days for me — you may recall that I cried about you possibly leaving home when you were actually only a few weeks old, because I knew those days would come way faster than my heart could handle. But I want you to follow your dreams, and helping you do so will make those be the best days.
And then the best days of adulthood — watching you start a career, a family, have a home . . . or whatever it is you choose. I hope it’s down the street from me. Or at least in the same town. Or no more than a text message or a Facetime call away. I’m already so proud of you that I can’t even imagine what overwhelming pride I’ll feel having watched you grow. Who will you become? Just stay true to you, and the world will be a better place because of it.
I’d like to think my parents are enjoying the best days now, watching my sister and me raise our children, keep their traditions, and make new ones of our own. I love how involved they are in my life and my kids’ lives, and I think that helps make the best days even better.
Maybe the best days will be when I’m old. Older than today. And my boys will still squeeze my hand three times to signal “I love you.” Maybe they will have taught their kids that tradition, too, and I can squeeze my own grandkids with love. I’ll tell them I love them more than the universe, and maybe they’ll say it back to me.
Right now, today is the best day. I woke up in a home with my three boys, snuggled tight with my littlest love, sent all three off to school with a hug and an “I love you.”
The best days have passed, and are still yet to come.
Every day is the best day if you let it be. Because as our lives unfold, we collect moments and turn them into memories. My boys, you are my favorite memories, and my favorite dreams for tomorrow. Thank you for all the best days we’ve had, and all the best days that are still to come, tomorrow, and the next day, and so on. I love you more than the universe, and I always will.