To my son, on your eighteenth Birthday.
Wow! Eighteen, my how the days sometimes feel long but those years just flew by so quickly.
My sweet Joseph, I don’t really know where to begin. As I sit here five days before your day of birth and reflect back to that time, I feel more connected to you again. I remember being so excited to see your face, and so tired of being pregnant with your 9 pound 6 ounce booty, I was begging you to make your worldly entrance. You would wiggle around reminding me that this was your show, I was on your time.
The moment my water broke I woke up startled but then the greatest peace fell over me. I knew you were coming and my life would never be the same. When they laid you in my arms fifteen hours, to the minute, later, my heart bursting, all I could think was “Thank you God for trusting me to be his mama.” I sobbed and smiled, sobbed some more, and couldn’t take my eyes away from you. I say that prayer every day still. Through tough times and hardship, on days that I wanted it all to be over, you were my why, my sunshine, that heart of mine beating outside of my body that kept me going.
I cannot say that I was always the best mom, trying to grow up myself and being in some of the hardest days of my life I honestly can only say I did “good enough” sometimes, but we persisted. Every day we kept going, often your love and mine for you sustaining me.
Watching you grow, learning you, guiding you, has been the greatest accomplishment of my life. Being close and talking about all of the things let my heart feel some ease as I had to let you go to become who you are. Know that your capacity for life is the only way I could, trusting the man you are becoming, the only way I survived watching you walk away.
As a little boy you taught me about love, you taught me patience, kindness and to never let go of imagination and hope. I became your mother because you taught me how. Your sweet innocence, your spark for life, your huge heart and endless kindness consistently and constantly reminded me how to be a better person.
I am me because of you.
People used to say, “you have done such a good job raising him!” And I would always counter that I was the lucky one to have started with such an amazing soul to work on. Work on you I did. We butted heads and I was hard on you, (I know you are shaking your head yes at that!) But, my goal was to raise a good man, whether you liked it or not. You showed me though, that as you were becoming a good man, that I had to see you as your own human, and how very capable you are.
I am humbled by your humility, honesty, bravery and overcoming ability. I sit in awe at how you have faced hardship and extended grace in its midst. You, my dear sweet boy, are everything I wish I could be better at in this life. You are my everything.
In this season of change, you getting out on your own and figuring out who you are is crucial. You will do it again over and over in this life and my hope is that you never stop learning and growing. I know that you know how immense my love is for you, you brought me to life eighteen years ago, and I am the most blessed, grateful mama.
Your smile lights up my life and I pray that in this life you are blessed with all of the things that continue to bring that smile out. There will be adversity, there will be loss and grief and days where the end seems easier. You will have to fight, you will have to try and get up when you don’t want to. You will succeed and when the storms subside you will be the next better version of you. It is all an evolution.
Stay the course, see it through. Never settle for less than anything but what sets your soul on fire, regardless of what anyone else thinks - including me. I will always be your biggest fan and I will always tell you the truth. When you think of me I want you to know that I loved you first and I will love you last. You are the best thing about me, without question.
You have a bright and immense future. There will be critics and naysayers, there will be great love and love lost and with every passing year, you will become more of who you are meant to be. It is the greatest joy for me to get a front row seat, I am certainly blessed beyond measure.
I hope you know how loved you are, I hope you know you always have me. When life gets hard I want you to be strong, but I want you to stay open and vulnerable too. Our greatest lessons in life often come after the hardest experiences, but we learn, we will always learn. Keep your head up and keep your heart strong. You are the only one of you we get, I know you were made just for me. This world is better because you are in it.
Remember to always look for the good, be a helper, show kindness and compassion. Do not judge or mock or intend to hurt. Allow others in even while knowing it may not be forever. Love fiercely. Allow yourself and others room to be exactly as you/they are. Find your path and if you hit an impasse, do not give up on yourself or your goals. Tell the truth. Live with integrity. Do what you say you will and show up for others as you would want them to do for you, even if they don’t. What you choose is yours, forgive, love, laugh. Respect yourself and extend that to others who earn it. Read books and always know there are multiple sides to the story - follow the truth, even if it goes against popular opinion. Find what makes you happy, never let anyone complete you or take from you, but rather be whole just as you are. Know without a shadow of a doubt that you are worthy, you are deserving of goodness, you are loved and so special just as you are.
I became me on the day you were born, and every day since then has proven that you bring out the best in me. You are always in my heart and mind and I am proud beyond measure of you, Joseph.
I am so grateful He chose me to be your mama, the absolute pleasure of my life, the greatest gift I could ever know is watching you grow into who you are.
Have the happiest of Birthday’s baby boy!
I love you!