I wrote this letter to my son this morning. Since I post a blog every year on his birthday, I thought I’d just copy and paste it here so I’ll never forget. Time is a funny, squiggly, tricky thing. Posting milestones through my writing to mark events helps me make sense of my world. I know many moms out there can relate.
Today, you turn 16.
I remember the day you were born. The doctor lay you on my chest and for one moment, you stopped crying and just looked at me. It was like we recognized each other after those nine months of you growing in my belly, and suddenly, the world fell into place for me. Then we both started crying.
I remember your first day of pre-K at Footprints. I left you, and you tried to race out the door into the parking lot and the teachers needed to lock the door. I went to the nearby gym and stood on one of the tables where there was a hole in the wall. I spent half the class peering through the hole to make sure you were okay. Many of the other moms were there, too. You cried and Miss Joanne rocked you and I remember thinking I was a horrible Mom for leaving you, but I knew it was the beginning of a long life with many steps of training you to leave me. Unfortunately, that’s a mother’s job.
Unfortunately, it sucks many times.
I remember the first day of kindergarten. You wore this bright yellow tag around your neck so you wouldn’t get lost with the bus. After you got on the bus, I began crying and shrieking and the bus driver opened her window to ask if I needed help or an ambulance. I told her no, then jumped in my car, so I could follow you to the school. I ran inside and peeked into your kindergarten class where you were sitting quietly at your desk and waved. You looked puzzled by my presence. You waved back, and I left.
I remember the first day of middle school. Being my usual organized self, we missed the bus. I had to speed over to drop you off, all the while I was sick to my stomach with nerves. You looked nervous too. I pulled up at the door and saw your face and my heart dropped so I said, “You got this.”
You looked at me, nodded, and said, “Yeah, Mom. I got this.” Then you left with your backpack and your shoulders squared in determination. I watched you and drove away but you didn’t know I had to pull over to cry because I couldn’t see the road. Just another step toward adulthood.
The first day of high school I kept it together. I remember your first cross country meet and how you were one of the leaders. You won one of the races, and I wanted to run over to you and jump up and down and give you water, but you were surrounded by other kids on your team who were high fiving you, and I stood back, just a bystander. I remember thinking how proud I was you seemed to have a gift and you loved running but it was something I couldn’t help you with. It was yours alone. You’d found a niche and made all these friends and bloomed. You knew who you were.
I remember when the girl you crushed on since the second grade became your official first girlfriend in eight. In fifth grade, you said you dreamed of taking her to the prom one day in a limo, and I knew it would happen. I love the way you think carefully over what gifts you’ll give her. I enjoy seeing that side to you and how you interact, especially with such kindness and respect I wish more boys/men showed the opposite sex.
Today, you turn 16.
You’re on the track team. You’re on the national honor society. You have close, good friends. You have a sweet, beautiful girlfriend. You work hard. You’re actually nice to your younger brother.
And now you’re about to drive. Another step into the world and away from me. Another thing to worry about and pray over that I have no control of.
But you are my greatest lesson, because through you, I’m learning how to let go. I’m learning how to live happily without always being in control. I’m learning that I’m your guide and not your owner, even though I’d like to be many times, lol! I’m learning about real love, true love, the kind that takes my breath away and humbles me and makes me happy even though it’s sometimes painful.
Happy birthday, Jake. Mom and Dad love you.
It’s going to be a great life.