To a son on a birthday

Eighteen years ago he came out crying, all 5 pounds 12 ounces of him, with the softest, sweetest cry you can imagine. Now, eighteen years later, he is a foot taller than me with the voice of a young man, and it is so hard to reconcile the reality with the memory. He is still the baby he was then, and every age in between. In the way he walks now is the swagger of the newly mobile, when he thought the world was his for the taking simply because he could walk. His crooked smile is the same smile he had at 7, when he could charm everyone around with one grin. He has finally outgrown the skinny, gangly stage of adolescence, his body that of a man, yet he is still my baby, my first boy.

I wish I had words of wisdom to pass on to him, but really, even if I did he wouldn’t listen; such is the nature of eighteen, when the world beckons and everything is still possible. So instead of a lecture, I want to tell him this:

Everything IS possible. The trouble of the last couple of years has forced you to take a different path, but the future is still yours for the taking. I love you and believe in you with every inch of my being, and I will always be your biggest champion. You have not had an easy life, but no one has-don’t let the past define you, but make your own definition of yourself. You are amazing, and I wish I had half the bravery that you show when I was your age. I love your sense of humor, and I love that you have strong enough beliefs to stand up for them, even though we aren’t on the same page. I cannot believe that I have raised a non-believing Republican, but I honor your differences and love the fact that we can argue politics and religion and still love each other. I know that you are your own person, and that you have to make your own choices and your own plans; forgive your mama for loving you so much that she has tried too hard to protect you.

I am a little melancholy today, in that bittersweet way that comes when another child becomes an adult. I love the baby he used to be, the sweet toddling thing, the ignorant teen. I love the young man he is now, and the one he is going to become.