Happy ninth birthday, my beautiful boy.
“I will take such good care of you,” I promised through tears of joy and exhaustion as I held you in my arms for the very first time. You were tiny, wrinkled and helpless. And you were the most wonderful, amazing thing I’d ever seen. The love I felt was unnameable, fierce, primal and immense.
Now here we are, nine years later. I have done my best to make good on that promise. And I hope you feel secure in my love and cared for. Know that I have your back and always will. And that having you and your sister are the best things I’ve ever done.
I have seen such changes in you in the last few months, both physical and emotional. Your small kid softness is being replaced by more angular planes. You have a burgeoning need for independence and though you still find the word poop hilarious, your humor and wit have seemed to finetune. Overall, you just seem more mature.
I see you as you are, an intelligent, kind, deep young man. But I also see you as a baby, staring into my eyes as I held you. I see the time I sat for twenty minutes, camera at the ready, as you sat in your bouncy seat and I waited for you to smile even though my mother insisted you were too young and that anything I saw was just gas (note: you did smile and it wasn’t gas).
I see you toddling around on legs so chunky that the skin folded in wrinkles like the Michelin Man. Your joy was contagious. “Hi! Hi! Hi!” you would shout at anyone you saw, your smile huge, blue eyes twinkling.
I see you projectile spitting mushed carrots all over me as I fed you in your high chair (note: carrots in the eyes are unpleasant). I see all the times you puked and pooped and peed on me (also unpleasant).
I see you having a giggling fit for the first time in a store dressing room as I tried on clothes. I see you crying and being led away into preschool at age two as I hid in the hallway in tears. I see your kindergarten teacher three years later having to peel you from my arms and legs as you screamed, “I don’t want to go!” I see your smiling face later that year in the Thanksgiving play as you proudly played N. I see you riding your bike without training wheels, careening terrifyingly through an empty parking lot.
I see you running your first 5k, playing outside with your friends with total freedom, picking out the books you want to read. I see all of this and more.
I see every joyful moment, all the sad ones, the tantrums, sleepless nights, the deep conversations we’ve had, the laughter, the pride, the big moments and the everyday ones. And I see you now, with your huge smile and your deep thoughts, a mini-man who is growing into the man you will one day become. I like what I see.
Happy birthday, my boy.