Today is your day, buddy! I could write here about this day twelve years ago--the day that you made me a Mom. I could retell the story you've heard hundreds of times. You know, the one where it's snowing outside? The one where I look out the window off and on for nearly 14 hours of labor? The story of the day that the hospital waiting room was filled to the brim with people who were thrilled about you?
Yes, I could tell you all of that. But instead of talking about how Aunt Jenny gave you the nickname "Gloworm," let's talk about how you've grown. Because really, I am just as astonished about the person you have grown into as I was about the baby that was born on January 2, 2002.
The Year You Were Eleven had plenty of highs and lows, for sure. In a lot of ways, you are predictable. All of the parenting books and websites and experts warn that when kids reach your age, parents should expect mood swings. (Um, no kidding.) I have been prepared for you to want to spend less time with us and more time with your friends. I was ready (I thought) to work harder and to ask more questions in order to keep up with what's going on in your world, because your world is increasingly becoming more yours.
In more ways, though, you are unpredictable, just because that's who you are. Often, when I think that I've got you figured out, you find a new way to surprise me. I don't mean that in a bad way, sweetness. I just mean that you manage to keep me on my toes!
One of the ways you have surprised me this year has happened as you have continued to develop your personal interests and hobbies. It has been fun (mostly) to watch you! Especially since you started to middle school last fall...you have a lot of opportunities to try new things, and you are being fairly picky about how you spend your time. This time last year, I never would have thought that there would be a target set up on our back fence for you to practice archery. You saw something you wanted, and although you get frustrated, you continue to practice and fight for your spot on the team. I'm proud of you for that. Alternately, I really thought you would enjoy band. Maybe I should have worried a little more when you couldn't decide on an instrument--the euphonium wasn't even in your top 3 choices! You like it, but you don't love it. We'll see.
Speaking of middle school...Oh, my. There aren't really words to describe how I felt on the first day of school as I watched you and Henry cross the street and walk into that giant building. I felt helpless! I've only had that feeling one other time in my life--on the day you started school, and I left you sitting at that little table in your kindergarten classroom. When I could no longer see you, I drove home and cried a little. Of course, you aced your first day of kindergarten and had the same success on your first day of 6th grade. Sniff.
You are now halfway through your first year of middle school. You've been to your first school dance--and enjoyed it. You had to sort through some relationship drama, but that seems to have leveled off and you know who your friends are and who to distance yourself from. You are doing well in your classes. Well, except for math. I'm afraid you take after me when it comes to mathematics. Sorry, dude. Fortunately, you still like to read--also like your mama!--and you really enjoy your ELA class. Overall, I have been impressed with your adjustment to middle school. I often feel overwhelmed by it, but you seem to have a solid grip on what's going on. I am very proud of you!
Another big change this year happened at church. Our student ministry was restructured to include 6th grade--that's you! The leadership is doing a great job, and you have made a seamless transition. I am so thankful for that. With a little pushing from me, you decided to be part of Priority. It makes me laugh (to myself) that I have to, um, "encourage" you to go to rehearsal most Sunday afternoons, but how you always have such a fun time with your friends and tell me great stories when I pick you up. Why can't you just go willingly and save us both the trouble?!?
You got a cell phone this year. I want you to know that this was a HUGE decision for Dad and me. More so for me--your dad was on board early on, but I needed some convincing. I haven't admitted it to you yet, but you should know that I'm glad now that I agreed. It has come in handy on more than one occasion. It also is our go-to punishment item--the first thing to get taken away when your behavior calls for consequences. Gosh, you hate that! ;)
You know what else you hate? You despise cancer. You are reluctant to deal with it, and very reluctant to talk about it. That's making it tough. You know that I am sick--maybe sicker than I've ever been--but you don't want to discuss it. I press on, though. I am determined for you to talk to me, even though it's hard. Believe me, buddy...it's hard for me, too. But I love you so much! Way too much to just let it go. So I will continue to try to gauge how much is too much, what is safe ground and what will push you too far. Here's a small reminder for you: God is in control. There is nothing that this life can throw at us that He can't handle for you if you let Him. Your mom loves you, but your God loves you infinitely more.
Life with you is a grand adventure, Goliath. Some days are up, other days are not quite so easy. I would not trade a single one for ANYTHING. Each night at bedtime (sometimes I tuck you in, other times it's the other way around) when you hug me, it feels like the greatest thing in the world. All the craziness and busyness of the day melts away, and I am taken back in an instant to that fantastic snowy day in 2002 when I first hugged you. No matter what you do or where you go, I will be there. No matter how big you grow and how diverse your interests become, I will be there. Because, sweet one, that's what love is all about.
Thank you for letting me be your mom and accompanying you on your life adventure. You carry around a huge piece of my heart, and there is no one else who I would want to have it. I look forward to what this new year will bring us and where it will take us...I love you so much!
Happy Birthday, amazing son.