Today you are sixteen.
I know! It’s plum ridiculous! I feel like it has taken all of nine entire minutes to go from your birth to today, and sometimes Mama just needs to sit down and catch her breath, because it’s all just going too fast.
I remember so vividly the day you were born. I had been outside watering the plants, even though I was on bed rest. I simply had to get outside… to get out of that overstuffed green chair we had in our living room back then and DO something productive. When I came back inside, I felt a little off, and our doctor told me to come on in.
And then he confirmed that YES! You were going to be born THAT VERY DAY. It had nothing to do with the fact that I had been outside watering, and everything to do with the fact that August 8th was the day God had picked for you to be born. You were coming! And since you had your own ideas about things even then, you were upside down… completely breech, with one leg up over your head. So, a C-section it was. You were coming five weeks early, but we had been assured that everything should go just fine.
Dad and I, along with your grandparents, all sat in that hospital room, with me in a gown on the bed and your dad watching old episodes of Bonanza on TV, laughing together, and just plain STINKING EXCITED to find out if you would be a boy or a girl.
Everyone guessed GIRL. I even said the word GIRL out loud, but, deep in my heart, I kind of KNEW that you were going to end up being a boy. It’s because I was so nervous to have a little boy of my own. Growing up with just a sister hadn’t prepared me for the weird creatures that boys were, and I just somehow suspected that YES! I was in for a long haul of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails, and pockets full of bugs and rocks and twisty, wire bread ties and mud pies.
And that’s what we got.
After the worst C-section in the history of surgeries (Can you say, “Poor Anesthesia Results?!”), there you were! Our anesthesiologist yelled, “It’s a boy!” And suddenly, I was so scared about HOW DO YOU RAISE ONE OF THOSE?! HE WON’T WANT TO HAVE TEA PARTIES AND PAINT TOENAILS WITH ME!
Those are the thoughts I remember having, right before I realized that things must not be going too well, because the doctors were not letting me see you. And then your pediatrician handed you to your daddy, with the command, “Carry him to the nursery, but go as fast as you can. Don’t stop for anyone; get him there quickly!”
Because apparently you were laboring to breathe.
I can remember crying, thinking that you weren’t breathing because I had been so nervous about COULD I RAISE A LITTLE BOY QUITE PROPERLY? After that, the drugs that I was given kicked in, and the rest of the evening is a whole lot of blur. I can remember your pediatrician coming into my room, so that she could talk to me. I can only remember her telling me that she was going to fly you to a bigger hospital… to a NICU. I remember that you were prepped for your flight, in a giant, glass chamber, and that one of the flight team guys wheeled you into my room, so that I could say good-bye to you, as you and Daddy prepared to board a plane. I can remember Mam staying all night in my hospital room with me. I can remember your dad calling me at 1:00 in the morning, to tell me that you had my big toe and that you looked like Pa.
I can remember it being the best day of my life…
… and also the scariest day of my life, because I wasn’t sure I could survive losing you, even though I’d never even held you.
And then, boom!
You grew big and strong and learned to breathe on your own.
You flunked breast feeding horribly, but took that tiny, preemie bottle like a CHAMP!
Twelve days later, we brought you home, and I was pretty sure I could figure out how to raise a little boy.
You just smile over all the dirt and sword fights and frog-catching and Lego-building. You buy Tide in the big jugs and buy twice as many granola bars as you think you might need to have on hand in the pantry, and get used to hysterical laughter over toots.
And you just love little boys like crazy.
That was the formula.
And… man alive! Have you ever been loved!
Here we are… sixteen years later. I know that EVERY mother says, “MY son is the best,” but the honest truth is: IT’S MY SON who is the best. Yes, you’re the ABSOLUTE WORST at getting ready in the mornings quickly. You’re the ABSOLUTE WORST at showering quickly and getting dressed quickly, and some days I think I’m going to tear my hair out of my head, by rooty handfuls, before I get you out the door. But… to balance those things out and then tip the scale completely in the opposite direction… you have the ABSOLUTE BEST heart, when it comes to kindness and generosity and thinking of others. You love Jesus and you wear your Christian concern for others on your sleeve. Everyone can see it. You invite kids to church; you give from the depths of your heart; you almost always remember to pray about situations first, even when your own mama, who taught you that, fails to remember it herself. Sometimes I venture off without prayer, struggling along my own road and wondering about all the blind turns, but then there’s you… back at the starting gate, praying for guidance, and then boom! You end up on the right road, heading right where you should be going.
You’re becoming this very independent creature, with your very own job… and your very own money. You’ve worked hard at the golf course all summer, and your boss has let your dad and I know that you’re one of his best employees. (And THAT makes my heart jump with pride, because I HAD MY DOUBTS! I mean, really… HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU MAKE YOUR BED THIS YEAR, EVEN WHEN YOU WERE ALWAYS TOLD TO MAKE YOUR BED?!)
I could just ramble on and on forever, but the bottom line is just this: You’ve turned out great. You’re amazing. You’re smart and funny; you pull off straight As all the time in school and enjoy learning; you pray for others and are one of the loyalist friends to your peers that we know. You love deeply… deeper than I’ve witnessed a lot of teens love.
Today, you got your driver’s license, and I started crying in our driveway, when you drove off for work. I know you’re ready to fly on your own in this life… but I’m not sure that I’M ready for you to fly off on your own, in your own car.
You’re just kind of the bomb.
And your parents kind of love you.
Kind of a whole big gob.
Happy birthday, Boy.
I’m trying to convince myself that these last three years of high school aren’t going to be over with in six minutes. And then I’m trying to convince myself that you’ll change your mind about letting me homeschool you for college.