I don't know the last time your brother called you anything but Juderbug or Juders. It's been ages since he called you Jude - and before that Baby Jude. Little love, you are anything but a baby now. You've nearly quadrupled your birth weight; you're now big and tall with chunky cheekers, ocean blue eyes to match your daddy and brother's, and soft little curls - but only at the back of your head, just enough to make your curly-haired momma smile.
It seems like you came screaming into our lives both a moment ago and a decade ago. It seems like ages since I was pregnant. But it feels like just last week that everyone was assembling to welcome you into the world. I had no idea there could be a puzzle piece as perfect as you to complete our little family.
I was scared at first. Everyone said I'd love you differently than I loved your brother. Maybe not as deeply right away. That was true. After all, I had 2 years and 3 months of getting to know your brother. You were new to the scene and I loved you fiercely, you were - and are - mine. Your sweet face melted me. But I was scared that the love-you-so-much-it-physically-hurts feeling I had for your brother wouldn't come. Silly me. Kiddo, you had me wrapped around your chunky fingers, and in no time you were wrapping those fingers around my heart. And now, without question or hesitation, I love you so much it physically hurts.
It's been amazing watching you grow this past year. You are feisty, and determined. You stop at nothing to get what you want. I think this is why you started walking at the ripe old age of ten-and-a-half months. There was a period of a few weeks where I didn't see your forehead without a cut or bruise - you're fearless and tough. You smack into everything because you won't quit until you master whatever you're trying to do. Yet, you're very kind-hearted and oh, so sweet, and you seem to know your limits. You've already started pushing your boundaries, and with one simple "Jude! No!", you check my face to see if I'm serious, and then you just stop, no questions asked. You're not a cuddler. You like one hug and then you want to be on your way. Lately, you're a daddy's boy (I'm not worried, you still give me plenty of smooches).
People have started to sing Hey, Jude to you eleventymillion times in the past year. I secretly love this. I hope you love it too as you get older. Truthfully though, you weren't named after that song. We aren't exactly music aficionados... and certainly don't claim to even be Beatles fans. We didn't really name you after Jude in the Bible. Certainly not after Martha Stewart's granddaughter, Jude. We heard the name the night before we found out your gender, and it was the first name in a thousand that we both liked. It's very, very old, yet seems contemporary too. You're so very much a Jude. I try to picture you as some of the other names I liked - Cullen, or Emmett, or Grayson, or Kieran - and none of them even come close to fitting you.
My friend Jess has two little guys too. She shares this little poem when talking about her littlest:
I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm breathing,
My baby you'll be.
I love those words so, so much. Jude, every day you try to defy what it means to be the "typical little brother". You stand on your own two feet (literally), and you have your own story to tell in this world.
No matter where you go, or what you do. I will love you then as I do now, on your first birthday. And you'll always, always be my baby.
Happy birthday, sugar boogers.