Last year on your birthday, I wrote a blog post which included some of my favorite memories of you through your first decade of life. This year, as you begin your second decade, you are living away from me at a residential treatment center. My heart is torn about this whole situation. I love you so very much, I want you to be home with me & with Dad more than anything else. But at the same time I know that the people where you are living now can give you tools for healing that I am not able to give you by myself. This year I don’t care so much about organizing your birthday letter to make it memorable or sweet or funny. This year I just want to tell you from my heart all that I love about you, how much I believe in you, how no matter where you are a part of my soul travels with you and always will.
Do you know, my beautiful boy, that I have always believed in you & your abilities? You have never liked it when I’ve talked about you to the doctors, teachers, specialists. I know that you understand every word I say and that you & I have a special almost-psychic connection. Just like any boy with his Mom, you get embarrassed when I boast about your talents, you get frustrated when I talk about your challenges. Sometimes you roll your eyes when I try to kiss you in public, or you pretend you are too cool & don’t hear what I say– but I know you take in every word. When I need to talk about you, I choose my words very carefully. I feel that if I need to convey important information, it is my responsibility to represent you in the most respectful, truthful, loving way possible. To you maybe it seems like I disclose too much information, but please know that no matter what words I use, in my mind you are standing right beside me whispering to me all the thoughts you aren’t able to speak yourself.
Do you know, my beautiful boy, how much I admire you? Whenever you have been faced with new situations, you have always made the best of it. I remember the first day I took you to preschool. You weren’t sure what the heck I was doing, but you didn’t cry that first day. You put your game face on, you jumped right in and tried it, and you made it through to the other side. The second day you were a bit taken aback that I was bringing you to school again, but you weathered that day, too. After that, we had all the typical separation anxiety & insecurity– just like any little boy would have– but you got through it just fine. In your short life, you have had to be more adaptable & flexible than any other person I’ve known. Change isn’t easy for you, your life circumstances have often been confusing or scary, but you have always bounced back from the rough spots. Your resiliency inspires me.
Do you know, my beautiful boy, how proud I am of you? Wherever you go, you make new friends. You help other people. You remember your little sister. You make people laugh. You invite others to play. You give hugs freely. You use the words you have to express the important things. You ask for what you want. You have a compassion for others that is deep & amazing, and when you hear someone in pain, you want to know that they have friends, that they are being helped, that they will be okay.
Do you know, my beautiful boy, that you are loved? Ever since you were born, the world has embraced you. You have a big, close, loyal family. But more than that, you have helped to build a truly remarkable village which surrounds us all. There are many teachers, friends, neighbors, doctors, helpers from each year since you were a preschooler who regularly check-in to see how you are. Many of them read this blog because it is important to them to know that you are okay because you touched their lives in such a big way that they will always remember you & love you. There is quote from my favorite movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” which goes “No man is a failure who has friends.” By that standard, at age 11, you are the most successful person I know.
Do you know, my beautiful boy, that I will always be with you? From before you were born, you & I have had a special, unique connection. When I was pregnant with you, someone told me that “to have a child is to make the decision to forever have your heart go walking around outside your body.” That probably sounds gross to your 11 year old ears, but what it means is that no matter where you are or where I am, I feel our special connection. When you are happy, it makes me happy. When you are sad, part of me cries too. It’s like that feeling you get when you hold hands with someone and you know they are right there next to you. That connection between us will last forever.
Do you know, my beautiful boy, how special you are to the world? When you were very little, we started saying bedtime prayers together as a family. Each night we would start with the same words: “Dear God, this is Mommy & Alex, and tonight we pray to say thank you for making us a family together. Please watch over all the people we love & keep them happy & healthy & safe.” I told you then that God can hear all the words, even the words you have inside your head. That is because you are important to the world, and everything about you was made to be unique & special. I prayed that you would come into my life & be my son. When you were born, I felt blessed in incredible ways. But as you grew, I began to understand that Dad & I weren’t the only people blessed to have you in our lives, we were just the first two. I realized that you are a gift to the world and that just through your being the person you are, you will change the world for the better in many ways.
Do you know, my beautiful Alex, how grateful I am to be your Mom? I love you more than words. I believe in you all the time. And I look forward to sharing the next decade of your incredible journey with you.