A Letter to my 4-Year-Old Son on his Birthday


May 6, 2013 by Katia

And where was I when you got married to daddy? Did I stay all by myself when you traveled to Barcelona 10 years ago?

It’s inconceivable to you, my son, that there was a me before you. A mommy who was waiting for her Ben to come. Her life was really fun. She traveled a lot, studied, raised pets, watched TV, had all sorts of feelings – good and bad, ate, shopped, read, worked, hung out with friends. Then came Ben and turned the volume up on everything.

And today you’re turning four. And like other boys and girls your age you sometimes make mistakes. We all make them, my Ben, I say to you, as you follow your lowered gaze and land on the floor with anger and resignation, and you get all upset with yourself and tell me that you’re not the bestest. How can that be, when you’re the most entertaining show I get to watch, the most interesting topic I’ve studied, the deepest gratitude, fear and happiness I’ve ever felt?

It’s a strange feeling to know with such certainty what is going on in another human being’s mind, to be able to stare straight into their heart.

I see myself in you when we’re out shopping, I’m rushing to get home but you suggest “let’s stay and explore”.

I see myself in you when you feel things way too deeply.

I see myself in you when you raise your eyebrows in search of approval.

I see myself in you when you are ready to give all that you’ve got and you’re inevitably disappointed when met with far less enthusiasm by those who simply do not feel as deeply.

I see myself in you when you look at the truly depressing grey corduroy pants you got as a gift and ask not to wear them because they “don’t make me happy”.

I see myself in you when you happily and deliberately goof around just to make someone else laugh.

I see myself in you when your eyes light up and your imagination is ignited by the books we read to you.

I see myself in you when you don’t want to dive in the pool.

I see myself in you when you’re excited about having learned a new word.

I see myself in you when you feel sorry for both the good and the bad guy in the story.

I see myself in you when you ask me if we can go out to a for lunch restaurant.

I see myself in you when you worry about unknowingly breaking some unwritten rule.

I see myself in you when you freak out about your sleeve or sock getting wet.

I see myself in you when you’re upset that you’re not the best.

I don’t see myself in you when you raise your hand first and shout “ me, me, me!!!” louder than anyone else.

I don’t see myself in you when you walk up to people you don’t know and initiate a conversation.

I don’t see myself in you when you walk up to a group of much older kids and ask to play with them, not fearing rejection.

I don’t see myself in you when you see the solution not the obstacle.

I don’t see myself in you when you suggest to sing a song to 15 strangers at mommy’s workplace and then sing it.

I don’t see myself in any of the boyish games that you play.

I don’t see myself in you when you create a complicated Lego structure from scratch.

I don’t see myself in you when you say the word “lookit” and eat foods that I’ve never heard of as a child.

I don’t see myself in you when you hold a bug.

The familiar and unfamiliar in you amaze me equally. I want to spend the rest of my life in amazement.

May 2013 131

61 thoughts on “A Letter to my 4-Year-Old Son on his Birthday

  1. Dana says:

    Happy Birthday Ben! This made me tear up, Katia. I can relate to seeing so many things in my children that are like me and so different from me. The years go by so fast, and your blog is a wonderful way to document this time. Hold on tight to that kid – I hope he will always hug you back!

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Dana, for your beautiful words! I agree, the years go by very fast. Kind of scary, really. He actually initiated the hug on the photo, but I’m not as naive to think he will do that forever, I too hope that he will at least always hug me back. 🙂

  2. basicallyb says:

    Found you on the I don’t like Mondays blog hop. Such a sweet post. Happy Birthday to your son! I have a 10 and a half month old. It just goes so fast!

  3. mysending says:

    What a lucky boy to have a mom like you! And okay, visa-versa.

  4. Katia,

    So heart warming! It reminds me of a letter I wrote to McKinley before I was even pregnant. Probably actually creepy at that time, but I’ve always known I wanted kids. Adorable pic too btw! Whats “I don’t like mondays blog hop”? And how do I do that?

  5. Joanne says:


    Such a beautiful letter to Ben. It’s so true that our little ones are so much like us, but at the same time so different and I sometimes say “who are you?”. Their personalities are developing and changing with each new experience they encounter and sometimes I can’t keep up. But it’s definitely fun to watch. Sometimes I wish I had some of the courage and gumption that they show.

  6. Lance says:

    What a fine looking young man. Happy Birthday, fella.

    I wrote one of these to my 17-year-old daughter recently. It was a bit different but still, being able to show them your words, for posterity sake is kind of awesome. I have 3 girls, 17, 9, and 8, so it’s different.

    Thanks for tracking me down through Linda. Happy Monday. Now, I will go follow you on the Twitter.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you for the comment, Lance! Wow, 17 seems far now but I know it’s right around the corner. 🙂 It must have been a cool experience for her to get a post for her birthday! Happy Monday!

  7. Happy birthday to your son! I love how you switched from I see myself to I don’t. Fun read!

  8. I love this so much! I have been thinking a lot about this very topic, as my own daughter is so painfully much like me, but then I notice moments when I remember that she is outgoing, not shy like I was, and confident, not timid like I was as a child, and I remember that though we have so much in common, she is uniquely herself. Beautiful job!

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Steph! Yes, it’s such a remarkable thing to watch, the development of a character. We do have to remind ourselves that they are their own unique people, it’s easy to forget when you see so much of yourself in them:-)

  9. Katia,
    That was absolutely perfectly wonderfully amazing and I love it. I love it love it love it. Happy birthday to your sweet beautiful boy. This whole post had me smiling and getting teary and just made me happy too.

  10. Happy birthday to your little man! I love this ode to him. Im sure he will love reading it when hes a bit older.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Marcia! I always think of him reading it, whenever I write something. I hope he likes this one. Thanks so much for visiting!

  11. Jean Heff says:

    This is beautiful, you captured the push and pull of mother and son at this age. Especially at this age. Oh, my. Great writing Katia. I’m assuming you had some tears in your eyes as you typed this, as I’m sure a lot of us had when we read it.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Jean, I really appreciate your comment and I am so glad that my writing moved you. I do love this post and I’m happy a lot of moms (and a dad) seem to identify with it.

  12. This was wonderful. I love how you wrote this-the things you see of yourself in him and the things that you do not. Fabulous writing!

    Also, May 6th is a great day for a birthday-my daughter turned five today. 😀

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Sarah, it means a lot that you liked the writing. Yes, I agree, May 6th is great, but it’s actually my husband’s birthday, son’s was 3 days earlier, when I wrote the post… 😀 Happy birthday to your 6 year old, I read all about it on your blog yesterday! Look forward to more updates!

  13. Brian says:

    Only a parent can really understand the interaction and emotions you describe here, and those of us who are parents instantly identify with you. What a great mother you are! Congratulations to Ben on the big four-oh! (That’s 4.0, not 40.)

    • Katia says:

      😀 I love the big four-oh!

      I am so glad you were able to identify with some of this. Thank you so much for your very kind comment!

  14. So stinkin sweet! I have a Ben who will be four in December and so much of what you say about your Ben I could write for mine. I guess that’s why it brought tears.

    BTW, found you through the TALU hop and am glad I did.

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, Anita! Aren’t Bens the best? I love that what I wrote applies to yours as well and thank you so much for your beautiful comment. I’ll hurry over to visit your blog as soon as my other ones lets me 🙂

  15. Awww what a sweet post. Isn’t it amazing the guts they have to do certain things that we shrink away from? My son isn’t has NEVER been shy. He could work a room without me present. Me I have to find someone I know and latch on. Then there are wonderful traits that he gets from me, and then some I say, “I’m so sorry you got that from me.” Happy belated birthday to your little one! TALU

    • Katia says:

      Yes, latching on to someone I know, perfectly describes me in any social situation. It is amazing how different kids can be in that respect, I just keep praying he doesn’t lose these qualities. 🙂 Thank you so much for the sweet comment!

  16. Amen! A wonderful love note that also captures the real essence of being a parent: seeing yourself in your child and hoping to heaven you don’t screw them up. 🙂 I see my independent, stubborn streak already in my babies, so hopefully I can teach them patience without having to learn it the hard way like I did.

    • Katia says:

      Yes, that’s exactly what parenting is about. Seeing yourself in them and hoping that you haven’t genetically screwed them up… 🙂 Thanks so much for the comment, Melissa!

  17. Yvonne says:

    Katia, you sound like a wonderful mother!

  18. maggie says:

    What a great letter from a beautiful loving mom to her adorable loving kid. I love you both.

  19. I have to say this is an awesome post…I must say I never would have thought to say some of those things in a letter…That is definately a letter to save and give to him when he gets older…Well done!!!

    • Katia says:

      Thank you so much, I really appreciate this. Yes, I will probably share this with him when he is older. I am so glad you liked it!

      • Your welcome, Do you mind if I use that idea sometime and write a letter to my girls??? I think that idea is really neat. I never thought of that. I have heard of write letters for other reasons…

        Kelly lynn

      • Katia says:

        Hi Kelly Lynn, I really appreciate you asking. I get a few clicks on this post every day with the search terms “letter to my son on 4th birthday” and no one has contacted me to ask yet, so either no one’s used it for inspiration, which is OK, or they didn’t ask, which is not. Of course you can use if you’d like to write a private letter to your little girls. My only request is that if you post something on your blog inspired by this, please link back to my blog, I am really proud of how popular this post became 🙂 Again, thanks so much for asking and not just taking liberty. XO

      • Definetly I will link the post and pay credit to ya!!! I let everyone know who I got the inspiration from!!!

        Thanks so much..
        Kelly lynn..xo

  20. He is so cute.. and so lucky to have a mom like you.
    I wish to be like u wen i’ll be one 🙂
    your writing is fab

    • Katia says:

      I’m sure he’ll agree with you now, then probably disagree when he’s 14, but that’s just the way it is, right? Thank you so much for the compliment, I’ll cherish that.

  21. Rabia Lieber says:

    Such a sweet post for such a sweet little guy! My Ben is three and a half. He and his older brother sure teach me a lot about boys!!

    • Katia says:

      I know, boys is such a foreign territory at first and then you start hearing about girls and realizing that they’ve become the foreign territory,,, 🙂

  22. Another gorgeous post- from a gifted writer like yourself, Katia. Every parent can identify with it- and your powerful depth is breathtaking…

  23. Stacey Lynn says:

    I love this! Such a sweet letter to your boy! I hope you let him read it one day 🙂

    Happy SITS Day!

  24. Beth says:

    So sweet 🙂 My baby boy is 13 and he still manages to make me laugh and see myself in his triumphs and defeats on a daily basis. Enjoy your boy and happy SITS day!

  25. So sweet!! My son will be turning 4 on Sunday. I need to write him a letter too 🙂

  26. Visiting you from TheSitsGirls. Touching letter, he sounds like a wonderful extrovert!

  27. Sindhu says:

    What a beautiful letter! He will be so happy to read it one day. 🙂

  28. xuaimee says:

    The letter is so touching! You makes me think of my mom, who shares my happiness and frustration for twenty three years. I can see that Ben is the most powerful driving force in your life, and the biggest source of joy. You found yourself in him, but he also keeps amazing you. What can be more wonderful to experience his growth, hear his journey and have him aside during the ups and downs! Ben is enriching your life, so is you to him. You are an amazing mom! Bring my best wish to your family!

    • Katia says:

      That is beautifully put and very perceptive. Yes, I did find myself and him and yes he completely amazes me. Blows me away! Thank you so much stopping by and leaving this wonderful comment! I am not amazing at all, I make tons of mistakes, but I think they know how much I love them. Hugs to you and thank you!

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