Every year on your birthday, I write you something- some of the letters are poignant, some silly, all are heartfelt. I look at the photo of you above, taken just a few days after you were born, and I can still almost smell the sweet heavenly newness. Today, you look me in the eye and try not to giggle, and fight with me about taking a shower and how soon you need a haircut: “Sooner” I say, to your infinite “later”. You babysit, and keep track of your money earned to put towards gadgets you love, and your room is littered with socks, Legos, and comic books.
Last year I wrote you the following:
Son, you make your mama proud. When you were born, all copper hair and furrowed eyebrows, I knew you had a noble heart— and time after time, as you’ve grown, you have made me proud. Now, on the eve of beginning middle school, I’m fighting with my own worries and fears, which are always greater at night, as you well know. Yet I remind myself of the strength of character you have already shown- you make good choices for a growing boy. You pick good friends. You are kind and thoughtful of others. You watch out for those smaller and younger than you, and you have a profound sense of fairness and take great umbrage if you feel it’s been trodden upon.
Thank you for being my son. Thank you for shouldering a harder burden than many boys twice your age, and doing it with love, kindness and grace. Life the past few years has been harder than I wish or had planned, but the lesson for all of us was to make the best of things- even hard things. Thank you for still being a kid enough to crawl in bed next to me some mornings and chatter away about games and toys and what you’re hungry for— usually bacon and waffles. Thank you for turning to me when you are sad and need my shoulder. Thank you for trusting me with your heart, your ideas, your inspiration, and your dreams.
Where once you were small and needed my hand to guide you, today you can stand toe to toe and look me in the eye, even though we usually dissolve into a fit of giggles when you do. It still disconcerts both of us that we’re near the same size. It won’t be long before I have to look up to you, my son… Actually, the truth is, my dear, honest, goofy, sincere boy, I already do.
Each of those things still applies, even more-so as you grow. I watched you navigate the treacherous waters of your first year of middle school with integrity and determination, even in the face of difficulty. No, it’s not easy- and son, the truth is, you weren’t granted an easy row, but you’re strong enough and have a big enough heart to do what is required of you- and to do so with honor and courage.
I am, as ever, proud to be your mama. I love you, dear son. Happy Birthday!