four year portraits

My beautiful baby boy is almost four. Four! It feels like it's impossible for him to already be turning four and, yet, at the same time, I struggle to remember a time without him. Sometimes I think I was only halfway living before he was born; it was him who taught me so much about what it means to live.

I've never been the parent who longs to freeze time during the infant years. The baby stages were wonderful, of course, but the toddler phases? They make my heart so happy. I look back in awe and wonder at the time I've been so fortunate enough to spend with my little buddy, my not-so-tiny best friend. The memories and the learning and the magic that his laughter created in places that I thought had nothing new left to discover. I feel like the words "luck" and "magic" are so overused but they're the words that pop up to the forefront of my mind when I look back on our years together. I am so lucky. I am so lucky to watch this little boy grow up. It has been nothing short of magical to watch him emerge from his bedroom each morning older, taller, wiser, another piece of his personality showcased in his smile.

Still, my eyes get teary when I think about it. Four. Did I appreciate it all enough? Were his the last diapers I will ever change? Was he the last baby I will ever swaddle or rock to sleep? Were those sleepless night and late night bottles and first teeth and learning to walk milestones -- were they the last I will experience as a parent? Did I appreciate them enough, all of them? I think I did. I hope I did.

At almost four, Ethan is this sensitive, sweet, kind little boy -- a "do-gooder," I always say. He is stubborn and will wrinkle up his brow and let me -- or whoever is speaking with him -- know that he is not amused. He feels so deeply. He loves so strongly.

At almost four, I am seeing him slowly come out of his shell a little more. The rough and tumble boys at the playground intimidate him still, but lately he's introduced himself to a couple of little girls at the park we had never seen before. "I'm Ethan," he said with hopeful eyes. Three year old Ethan would never, but four year old Ethan is different in so many ways.

This evening at sunset we snapped some four year photos and it was the final reminder that my baby will officially be four years old. I can't believe it, but I am so excited to celebrate my beautiful boy (all month long, let's be real) and for all of the adventures that the next year will hold.

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