Thirteen years ago today, I was given the most amazing, life-changing gift I have ever been given -- my sweet little baby boy. While touch-and-go at your birth, you quickly showed everyone that you were strong and healthy. Such a good, happy, cheerful baby, I knew how lucky I was. It startled me to even hear a baby crying in a restaurant, because the sound was so foreign to me!
How quickly you grew, as babies tend to do. Soon you were my chubby-cheeked toddler, and then soon after my bright-eyed little boy, stepping up onto the big yellow school bus for the first time.
I have been so humbled and so amazed to watch you grow. And I am so incredibly proud of the young man you have become. I remember when you were about 6 or 7, and found a twenty-dollar bill lying at the end of someone's driveway. It never even occurred to you to pocket it, as so many might have done -- you marched right up to their front door and asked if anyone had lost any money.
I watch you hold the door for people, only to have them breeze through without so much a word of thanks... and yet it doesn't stop you from holding the door open every single time. I remember when we were at the grocery store not long ago, and you noticed an older woman struggling to reach something on a top shelf. You literally sprang to help her, and what struck me most was the surprise on her face that a stranger would even help.
You help me stop and see what's important. Once when you were maybe 4 or 5, we were at your great grandparents' house, out in the courtyard. I was trying to get you to come inside so we could go home, so many busy things to do on the agenda, but you sshh'd me and said "Listen, Mom... the *birds* are singing." And so they were. Amazing birdsong, all around us, but I had been to caught up in my mental to-do list to hear. You ground me.
You are genuinely one of the funniest people I know, and I love the silliness between us. How many times has our convulsive laughter caused people to turn and stare at us as if we were crazy? But then they can't help but smile themselves, because your laughter is so contagious.
It has been just you and I against the world since you were 2, and I think we have done pretty darn well as a team. We have struggled and we have triumphed, and we have had some amazing adventures along the way.
I am SO PROUD of you... and love you more than I could possibly put into words. You are my heart, worn on the outside of my body. If the future is our children, the world will do well to have someone like you as a leader someday. And I'll be right there cheering you on.
Happy 13th Birthday, my sweet son... thank you for just being you.