My dearest boy,
Today is your eleventh birthday. And I’m sad. I’m fighting back the tears.
Every year since kindergarten, I’ve brought Chic-fil-a to you at school and sat with you and your friends at lunch.
It’s so fun to see you with your friends and talk to you all about school and life and spend some extra special time with you on your special day.
But today you asked if I could just drop it off.
You didn’t want me to sit with you or take a photo with you and the faster I would leave, the better.
I’ve faced rejection my whole life, but none hurt so much as to be rejected by you.
I went and sat with your younger sister--who would be happiest if she could have me by her side all day long.
I watched you leave the lunchroom with your friends and not say goodbye or thank you.
Son, I’m not mad.
I’m not even hurt really.
I know you love me.
But my son, I’m sad.
I don’t want you to grow up.
Every phase of your life, I’ve been so careful as not to say “I can’t wait until ____” or “I miss the times when ____.” I’ve tried so very hard to live every moment of your life in the present.
But I’m not sure if I’m going to like this phase much.
After lunch, I went shopping for your birthday gift. I cried in the isles of the bookstore because I know you won’t be happy with the gift I bought you.
You want a Xbox controller for your birthday. That’s it, just that.
While I don’t discourage you from playing video games, I’m not sure I want to encourage it either.
You’ve recently picked up cooking as a hobby and that makes my heart so happy. You’re amazing at it. However, I’m sure you won’t be elated when you open the AirFryer I bought you. Or skillet your grandparents bought you, or the Jamie Oliver book I found. You’ll probably be super disappointed that none of those things is a Xbox controller.
I’m sad I can’t make you happy. But I won’t compromise my parenting convictions to please you in the moment. Sorry, not sorry.
Hear my heart on this my love: I hope that you look back on this birthday and remember it as the one that your mom wanted to help you grow and learn and excel at something---and not the one that she just bought you what you wanted.
I hope that you remember the days that I brought you Chic-fil-a, and the nights that I sang that song to you before you went to sleep.
I hope you remember the birthday parties I threw and the cakes I baked.
I hope you remember the lacrosse games I cheered at and the practices I drove you to.
I hope you remember the after school homework talks and the late-night projects we worked on.
I hope you know that each time I leave town my heart breaks in fear of missing a moment with you and your sister.
I hope you know that I worry every day that maybe I’m not being the best mom I can absolutely be.
I hope you know that I’m scared that my ambitions and work gets in the way of your happiness.
I wish you could know the sleepless nights I’ve spent worrying and doubting.
I wish you could know what I went through with your Dad to fight for every moment I could with you.
I wish you knew how unhappy I was in my marriage and that deciding to raise you on my own was the best decision I’ve ever made because at the end of the day, I’m better because of it.
At the very end of all my hurt, all my pain, all my worry, all my sadness is joy.
Joy for what a kind, caring, sweet, responsible, funny, amazing young man you are.
Joy for what a good human you are and I know you’ll continue to be.
Joy and excitement for your future.
Joy and love for you.
I love you always and forever,