We celebrated Luke’s second birthday this past week. While the mark of the first year was one of triumph (we made it!), his second birthday was outright fun. Much like the difference in the first year of life versus the second, I felt no stress or expectation from anyone. Having returned so recently from weeks of travel, there wasn’t much time to plan anything major. We had two simple quiet celebrations: one at Luke’s daycare and another here at home with friends who feel like family.

There’s so much “Pinterest pressure” these days. To bake the nicest cakes, to hand-make food, presents and decor. And to pull it off in a stylish outfit. But, I had the best time setting that all aside, buying food, shopping for gifts the day of the party and really focusing on celebrating the moment with my little guy.

I had a weepy mom moment when the teachers asked me to give Luke his cake while they sang happy birthday. Walking toward him with the cake in hand, he looked like such a big boy. All I could think of was my small newborn nugget who was resting in my arms just two short years ago.

In the weeks I was away, Luke’s verbal skills exploded. We’re getting strings of words, he’s remembering what happens during the day and starting to tell us about it at night, he plays pretend and initiates games while we’re playing. We’re absolutely seeing signs of independence and willfulness, with challenges each day as we try to navigate what he thinks he can do versus what he’s able to do or what is safe for him to do.

I was telling a dear friend that the second year was a thousand times easier than the first. The more Luke grows, the more fun we have taking him out and about and the easier time we have in the day-to-day. I love this age and I expect it to get even easier as the months progress.