An open letter to my son…
My oldest child, & only son is celebrating his 12th birthday today. I, on the other hand, am celebrating so much more. For it was he, this incredible, blessed gift, that was my salvation. I had been told I would never have children, after trying everything short of in-vitro. Yet, here he was…somehow, someway…a tiny, fuzzy, black & white jellybean on the monitor…MY Jellybean. The sound of his galloping heartbeat brought tears of joy & wonder to my eyes. I was smitten, head over heels, overwhelmed by a love I never thought possible. For someone I had yet to even meet.
You were my easy child from the start. An uneventful pregnancy, with my days spent doing all the silly, goofy things a first time Mommy does, & my nights spent wrapped around you in silent adoration. The shock & pain of a long, natural homebirth, the anticipation of the miracle it was bringing. The fear & panic when the midwife lost your heartbeat, & told me I HAD to get my baby out NOW. The sound of the oxygen tanks landing on my bed beside me…one for me, & a tiny one for you. The sheer will that pushed you out almost before the words were out of her mouth. The relief & laughter from the room because your cord was so long, you “bungeed out” & they almost missed catching you. That same cord that you had compressed on your way out, causing them to lose your heartbeat. Me, your mother, half hysterical as they placed you in my arms, crying out, “IT IS A BOY!! I KNEW IT!!”, as I gave in to the tears & waves of emotions I had never felt before, threatening to crush me. Gazing down at you…unable to tear my eyes away…your eyes so full of wisdom, I knew you must be an old soul. We were never apart, you & I. Not once, not until the premature birth of your sister two years later caused me to live in the NICU with her for two weeks. Attachment parenting at it’s finest. Always so well behaved, good natured, quiet around others, but a total goofball with us. Every night after dinner, you had the craziest habit of running laps around the house. We’d sit back on the couch, watching you, laughing until tears streamed down our faces. It was better than TV any day.
An athlete too, able to chuck a ball across the street before your second birthday. Admittedly, we hate baseball. So instead, by three you were on skates, & by four playing both soccer & hockey. You loved the fun of it all, but never cared much about the winning….not nearly as much as we did! Your soccer skills got you on to the Rep team by six. You were cut from Rep by nine…because you simply weren’t an aggressive, competitive kid. And yet, suddenly this last year, you “found yourself” in the world of sports. A newfound confidence & a boost of testosterone that gave you a winning edge, propelling you to become THE star hockey player, not just for your team, but one of the best in your league. Encouraging you to give soccer another try also. But that arm is still there…an arm that has impressed grown men tossing a football around with you. There may still be yet another sport in your future.
That quiet nature that prefers to stay in the background, & go unnoticed. Yet you have always maintained a good balance between a “boy’s boy” & that shy quiet kid, the athlete & the intellectual. Our home was over run by Hot Wheels, literally hundreds of them, everywhere. You still engage in the logic & reason of Lego & Building Blocks. You can plough through a good book almost as fast as I do. But you’re unstoppable on Guitar Hero, astounding even my rocker friends with your mad Expert Level skills. Unable to play paintball as often as you’d like, you’ve turned to Nerf to fulfill your need for engaging in battle…you’ve known since you could talk that you wanted a military career. Grown men vie for you as a team mate on X-Box Live, as you continuously beat game after game put out for Halo, COD, & Command & Conquer. For you though, it’s always about the strategy. You see it, anticipate it, grasp it, play out all scenarios in your head before you’ve even taken your first shot. A war buff, a history buff, still loathe to let go of your last remaining army men because you will, occasionally, play your own war games with them. The only one in the house who will happily immerse yourself in historical documentaries with me. And the computer, of course…you love being on the computer. Perfectly content to spend hours alone engaging in these activities, yet a witty, annoying, chatterbox of a clown when you do choose to interact with the family…though still too reserved to share that quick wit & humour with the rest of the world.
A teacher’s dream, always doing as you’re told, quietly & independently. School comes easily for you, thank God, as do the good grades. I rarely know anything of your homework, for you simply do it, no fuss, no bother, no questions asked. As expected, the only “complaint” to come from your teachers has been a lack of participation…you’d rather have the floor open up & swallow you over being singled out, despite having known these kids your whole life. Here too you maintain a happy medium, in that social arena that is the schoolyard. You have friends of any & all race, colour, & creed, avoiding the “too cool for school” types, but not finding yourself as a social outcast either. You have true & real friends, who genuinely care about you, rather than social standing. Though you’re likely more popular with the girls than you care to think, given your dashing good lucks that have been equated to Zac Efron & Justin Bieber, I’m happy enough that you don’t seem particularly interested…just yet!
A loving, protective, & engaged big brother, you have a unique & distinctive relationship with each of your little sisters. They, in turn, love & adore you. I see it, as your mother, that sibling love. I see it when it’s just us, & the four of you are so content & happy being together. Of course there’s squabbles, there likely always will be, but I know we can spend weeks on end at the cottage & the four of you can be all the company you need. You’re a dutiful, easy going, & loving son, often my first choice for company when I want to “hang out”, & often the one I find coming to curl up beside me, just to “hang out“. The most like me in many ways, we share the same interests & can while away our time jamming on Guitar Hero, swapping books, or watching yet another documentary. We also share a sarcastic, lippy sense of humour that I can’t help but love, even when it is directed at me. Puberty has brought you out of your shell in many ways. You’ve grown physically, you’ve grown mentally, & you’ve grown too big for your britches at times. If you’ve noticed “grown emotionally” missing from the list, it’s because I have discovered THE basic truth of man….puberty is when a male’s emotional growth becomes stunted. But your newfound confidence & self-esteem have pulled you out of that melancholy I used to see so often, & worried about as only a mother can do. I now have every confidence that you can, & will stand on your own out there….& I have made a valiant effort to back off & let you become the “man” you need to be. No easy task for a mother with her first born.
But why you may ask, do I refer to you as my salvation? Because you completed me. You gave me life just as surely as I gave it to you. You & your sisters have, & always will be, my purpose. You brought me love, in a way I never knew possible, an all-encompassing, unconditional love. It was you, my precious baby boy, in all your sweet wisdom, with an incredible gift for empathy, that showed me the world can be a good place. Your gentle soul, your old soul, destined to touch others as you feel so deeply for them…but most importantly, you touched me. You were the miracle I had prayed, & wept, for…the child I never thought I’d have. So today, as you celebrate turning twelve, & becoming a young man, I will be celebrating the gift of you. The gift of love & light. The gift of my child, my son, my heart….my Jellybean. And since I know you outgrew that particular nickname long ago, I’ll use the other moniker that has become synonymous with you…Bud. Happy Birthday. I love you.
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