Mateo is Four!

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Eva Amurri shares her letter to her son Mateo on his 4th birthday!

Dearest Mateo,

Nothing can really, fully, prepare a Mom for when her last baby isn’t a baby anymore. Even though the term “toddler” comes with a great deal of experiential baggage during the time period you get to use it, it also brings comfort to know that your child is only an arm’s length from babyhood. That they’re still little, soft, and needy in the ways that make you feel like they’ll be yours forever. Well, now you’re four. And I hope you’ll excuse your dear old Mom while she has a bit of a meltdown.

Four?! How?! I’m shocked you’re this old and equally shocked that you’re not already forty. You have always been so wise beyond your years. So sophisticated in your understanding of the world. In your humor and your demands. In your layered personality. I’ve always said about you that you have the power to melt my heart and break it all within a matter of seconds, and it’s proving to be a quality that is following you through life!

Sometimes I’m amazed by the absolute power and audacity you have. You don’t let me get away with anything. If I say anything around you, I need to always remember that you’ve stored it away, analyzed it, judged it, and written a book report that you’ve filed away in your genius and vast mind. You don’t suffer fools, or liars, or people who make you feel small. You are brutally honest in a way that scares me and impresses me in equal measure. I wish to be always with you and never against you, and to be honest I fear for anyone who sparks your wrath. Your tongue is a sword. Your eccentric little brain is even sharper.

And yet, how is it that you are also the sweetest, most loving, and effervescent soul? In true Pisces fashion, you are both the rain storm and the babbling brook. You are the Shark and the sea turtle. You are the brightest light of my life, and the one I’m the most scared to let down. You are so effortlessly yourself. I so desperately want to know every single corner of you and your exciting and piercing personality. I want to listen forever to your stories, the things you want to teach me, and the ideas you have. Your teachers at preschool tell me that they never see any of the stubbornness or resistance that we get sometimes at home. They tell me that all of your time in preschool is spent acting with empathy towards your friends, mediating arguments, playing creatively, and complimenting the teachers. Apparently, not a day goes by that you don’t tell your teacher how beautiful she is! Some nights, when I try to snuggle you at bedtime, you dismiss me with a flick of the wrist and finger pointed out the door: “Not tonight, Mom. I just want to go to sleep.”

Other nights, especially on days when we’ve had a tough go of it, I can tell that you feel the same pull to reconnect that I feel. You’ll call me into your room, and wave me over. Snuggles? “Come lay here, Mama. Let’s talk. You look right into me with those crazy beautiful eyes, and you ask if I know how much you love me. I say Yes, I do. “No you don’t,” you tell me. “I’ll tell you how much, so listen: I love you all the way up to the sky and outer space, and then zooming all the way down to the ocean…zigzag, zigzag, then all the way between the jellyfish and the sharks and fishies, then back up to the sky. THAT’S how much.” I look at you and your furrowed brow. You’re so earnest and so resolute, and it almost makes me forget the five to ten times that day that you’ve tested my patience. It’s the most divinely hot and cold with you, my love.

But here’s my secret that I bet you’ll never guess. No matter how mercurial you get, I know how you love me. I do. I know how you know me. I know that you were so meant to be here. I grew you inside me during the hardest time of my life. I wished you forth, through every ounce of heartache– closer and closer Earthside. My love for you was the fuel I needed. It was the oath I took every day. My whispered promises to you kept me moving forward, upward, into the Joy.

When I finally brought you through me to meet the world, I looked at you in that moment of release and I already knew you so well. I recognized every part of you with such a deep knowing that it almost scared me. You will always be the one who drained the water when I was drowning. You will always be the being who brought our family together in a new way and helped us create a beautiful, fresh path. You will always be the touchstone for all of us in that way.

As you grow up, I see so much of the seriousness that came with your inception, but I also see the humor and joy. The goofiness! The sparkle in your eye seems to have invented all sparkles. You are so mischievous and silly. You are full of a light so bright it sometimes becomes lightning. It is absolutely impossible for me to imagine my life without you in it, and I am so grateful for every strange and funny and brilliant way you shake the Earth. Thank you for picking us. Thank you for pushing me to the brink of insanity daily… I will always credit you for keeping me on my toes.

I love and adore you endlessly. Happy Birthday, my Buggy Nuggets.

Yours Always,

Photographs by Julia Dags | Copyright © 2024 Happily Eva After, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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  1. Megan says:

    Happy birthday, Bug!

    What a lovely letter, Eva. He’s magic because of you. Buggy Nuggets is your Invisible String🤍


    03.13.24 Reply
  2. Michelle says:

    Oh, Eva 😭😭

    The letters you write to your children are priceless treasures they will appreciate so much!

    Happy birthday, Mateo!

    03.13.24 Reply
  3. LaTasha says:

    I’m literally sobbing 😭 this was so poetic. Happy 4th Birthday Nephew 🎉👶🏽🎂♓️💙 Love you

    03.13.24 Reply
  4. Mary says:

    Happy Birthday Mateo, always be who you are without second thoughts!!! And you Eva, oh my God, these birthday letters you write are literally killing me!!! Each and every time I start to read them, after a couple of paragraphs I think to myself that…” ok … it is very heartfelt, very warm but I know I am not gonna cry this time, I don’t even feel like crying or anything…LOL…and guess what…before the end of the letter I am always quietly sobbing with this lump on my throat, feeling all the greatness and the humbleness of being a mother…I don’t know how you do it!

    03.15.24 Reply