Happy birthday to my amazing first-born boy. You have been a blessing to me from the moment that you were born. It is almost unfathomable that you are 11 years old. A middle-schooler? Really? How is it possible? Was it not just a minute ago that you loved your "Lion in the Jungle" book and growled ferociously when asked, "What does a lion say?" I am positive that it has only been a short time since you struggled to pull yourself up to take your first steps and then plunked yourself down stubbornly when faced with the terrifying sensation of grass on your bare toes. Your first day at pre-school, those nights you would sneak into our bedroom and lay on the floor at the foot of our bed just so that you could be near us, the first time you saw the ocean, the sheer joy that you experienced in eating pickles at ten-months old, the way that you required a "mommy scented" shirt to snuggle in order to sleep at night, your steadfast refusal to sit on Santa's lap even if it meant that you might not ever get another present for the rest of your life…were all of those things not just a minute ago?
You are changing so quickly. One day I look over at you and see an 11-year old boy, full of silliness and flatulence and the next I see the man you will soon be. So long-limbed and mop-haired I imagine the teenager you are fast becoming…the one that will face so many tempations but will face no harder critic than yourself…that will surely make mistakes but will return to what is good and right because you know that nothing on this planet is more important than being a man of character. A man that loves his family and worships his Lord.
I know that it is too soon to talk about what kind of father you will be…but even before your baby brother was born I knew that you would be an amazing dad. To watch you with Corrigan is to catch a glimpse of how you will one day be with my grandchildren. You are so loving and protective..almost fierce inyour advice to anyone that attempts to hold him. It doesnt matter to you if the person has twenty children of their own…you will not hesitate to let them know exactly the expectations you have in order for them to be trusted with your brother. You are a daddy-lion and a gentle lamb all at the same time…your brother already knows exactly who you are and recognizes what fun you can be. When I watch you interact with Corrigan my eyes tear with happiness.. I see Cor's little baby legs pumping excitedly, his little mouthdesperately trying to form words to talk to you, his entire body stretching and leaning to attempt to roll over in order to get closer to you…I silently encourage him to always reach for you…because I know that you willalways be there for him.
These last few weeks have been tough, Connor. I have never been sadder than when I had one boy in the hospital and one boy far away from me. You were never far from my mind no matter how bad things got with Corrigan…and my heart was never closer to breaking than when you came to see the baby in the NICU and cried so hard to see him so sick and covered in wires. I wanted to shield you from that, to protect you from the crummy stuff that can happen to good people, bad people to anyone at all…but I knew that you could handle it. That you would dry your eyes and get down to the business of being the kid I have always told people you were. One that is strong and capable and more mature than some thirty-year olds that I know.
You hung in there those weeks…shuffled around with family while Dad and I lived out of a suitcase…and when we were all finally able to come home as a complete, new family of four…you made the transition seamless. You never ONCE complained about the crappy start to your summer, the fact that Dad and I had to miss your fifth grade graduation or that we could only talk a few minutes every evening because we had to hurry back to the baby before visiting hours were up. You made it easy to focus on what the baby needed by being strong and I thank you so much for that.
Now that we are home, Connor, I know that things have not got back to normal quite yet. A screaming baby and exhausted mom surely cant be the ideal summer vacation scenario you expected this summer before middle-school but you have been such a help to me. I dont know how I did it, alone, when you were a baby because this time around I feel like I am swimming in mud and you are always there to pull me out. "Connor, get that, grab that, do this, would-you-please, do-me-a-favor, one-more-thing-I-promise" is all you seem to hear from me yet you do not hesistate to help. I know you'd rather veg on the couch and watch your shows but you get dressed and run errands with me and you are my right arm. In fact, you are better than a right-arm..because there is really nothing, short of driving the car, that you cannot do to help me. I owe you big time, Big C. I can probably never repay you but I will try.
Enjoy your birthday Connor. I hope that you get a few nice things that you will enjoy ( even though I know you dont really care about gifts and stuff like that ) and I hope that you know that on your birthday, and every single day of your life, that people truly think you are an amazing kid. I love you sweetie with all of my heart…I am proud of all that you have done and all that you will do…and I thank you so much for just being "you."
Mama, loves you