Dear Little Middle,
Today is Little Middle Day! Last night I tucked you in bed for the last time as an eight-year-old, went downstairs to my own bed, and wrote in my journal about how joyful you make me! I knew, from the very minute I was aware of your existence, that you would be wonderful, simply because God made you. But God outdid himself when he thought of you. My life has been richer and happier since that wonderful March afternoon in 2004.
One of the ways you bring me joy is by making me laugh. Goodness, you are funny! Lots of children have called me "Ms. Allyson" over the years, but you are the only one who has ever called me "Mrs. Mom." (You refer to your father as Mr. Dad.)
It is no secret that you are not a morning person. You seem to get your highest burst of energy at about 8:15 p.m.--no problem in the summer, but a definite issue during the school year. I get tired of the morning battles, so it was a good bit of information you gave me when out of frustration, you shouted, "Friday is my favorite day of the year!"
After several years of eating Toaster Strudels faithfully for breakfast, you recently gave them up. When I asked you why you didn't want me to buy them any more, you said, "I need to be eating more whole grains." Of course.
This year you started working to break the world record for the most consecutive nights for someone to sleep in a sleeping bag. You don't actually know what the world record is, but that doesn't stop you. Your idea is a great one, and being a boy in a bag keeps you from having to make your bed in the mornings. Bonus!
As you grow up, your relationships are growing, too. You have proved over and over again that you are a kind and caring friend. You like to have fun, but you have a tender heart and gentle spirit. I'm not in third grade with you every day, but I don't think I'm too far off the mark when I say that people like you. I know I do...and no, I'm not just saying that because I'm your mother.
This year you have adopted an enthusiasm for the sport of hunting that is amazing. You killed your second deer this season, a feat that few 8-year-olds achieve. Suddenly, we are up to our necks (even more than before!) in all things camouflage, ammunition, and otherwise outdoor. I will probably never go watch you kill, but I love that you are so excited about something, and I love that you share it with your dad and your brothers.
The Year You Were Eight was difficult for our family in more than one way. I did my best to guide you and reassure you and your brothers through the scary days of last summer. Often, though, it was your calm, sweet disposition that was my reassurance. One of my favorite summer memories is from when we went to camp. We were in a worship service with the campers. I looked over, and you were standing on a chair at the back of the auditorium, singing your little heart out in true praise to our God. It was music to his holy ears and salve to my hurting soul.
You have been a real trooper as we have navigated the murky waters of The Sickness as a family again. I know it can't be easy to watch me go in and out of being the mom you know, but you remain about as calm as that river we swam in in Oklahoma last summer. I have made it my life's mission to protect you and your brothers from the horrors of cancer, or so it seems. But there are days, sweet boy, when we cuddle up and laugh at the latest episode of Duck Dynasty together, and I feel like you are protecting me instead. Thank you for loving me so unconditionally--especially when I can't be the mom I want to be for you.
Little boy, every day with you is a delight. But on this day, the specially designated Little Middle Day, my heart overflows with joy. Being your mother...words can not describe the great privilege that is mine. I am infinitely proud of you. Every day that you go out to school or soccer practice or church or wherever...know that you are never far from my thoughts and you are always in my heart. I love you.
Happy Birthday, sweet little man.
P.S. I don't pretend to understand exactly what makes Nike Elite socks so cool, but I don't underestimate a boy's need to look awesome. I'm glad you liked them, buddy.