A Letter to My Son on his 10th Birthday
Ten years ago, I got up, took a shower, went to work just like any other day. I kissed your sister on the top of her silky head, no hint that it would be the last time she would have her mommy all to herself. I got in the car, sat down at my desk, and prepared for the onslaught of tears that new Kindergarteners bring in the first weeks of school.
When the phone rang, I didn’t think anything of it. I hadn’t reached the stage of adoption where your breath catches every time your email pings or the phone jangles. Our home study wasn’t even finished, and we weren’t planning on you for months.
But there you were. I wasn’t ready – the house needed to be vacuumed, the laundry was piled up, there were no infant diapers in the house. Your sister was still in your crib, your nursery still painted pink and flowery. She was still using your highchair, your binkies, your blankies. She barely slept through the night, and still clung to me because I was her world. And still, there you were.
We packed our bags, made desperate phone calls for help around the house, and got into the car. We never told your sister where we were going or why – to this day, she panics a little when we take a trip to “Target”.
We bought you some diapers, a few blankets, some little boy clothes. Bella picked out a special book for you. And then we tried to sleep through the uncertainty.
When it was time, we went to the hospital. Your brave birthmom had already checked out. They housed you in the intensive care unit – that was where they babies who were waiting for mothers slept. We donned gowns, scrubbed, covered our shoes – and there you were.
I can’t describe how beautiful you were. Your skin was brown, head full of black hair. It wouldn’t curl for a few months, but it was thick already. Long fingers stretched and curled, long toes all accounted for. You pulled my soul through liquid pools of black as you gazed up at me.
Your sister read you her book while your dad and I tentatively rocked you, fed you, held you close. The nurses helped us change your diaper, get you dressed, buckle you in. And then there were four.
I am sorry to say that your first year was pretty much a blur. I wish now I had time to marvel over your first smile, your milestones, your favorite foods. Really, we were just trying to survive. You ate every four hours like clockwork, you went to bed at 10 and were up at dawn. You and your sister seemed to time your nighttime wakings so one of you needed us every two hours. You crawled early, walked early, and were climbing out of your crib before you were a year old.
You were a voracious eater, and devoured new experiences with abandon. You always wanted more, and if I didn’t give it to you, you found it yourself. You ran everywhere, climbed on everything, and were never afraid of anything.
Some things haven’t changed. You still exhaust me sometimes with your energy, your constant questions, your insatiable curiosity. You are also the only person in my life who can make me laugh no matter how angry I am. I will never forget the day I was at the end of my rope, scolding you intensely, and you reached up with the sweetest smile, stroked my head, and said “Mommy…..you have the prettiest hair….”.
I can’t stay mad at you. Which I promise to try and remember when you are a teenager, working to find your own way by testing your limits. And I promise to hold firm on the things that count – like kindness, fairness, love, and compassion – no matter how cute your mocha skinned dimples are.
I once had a friend tell me there is truly something special between moms and their sons. I wasn’t lucky enough to be your mom yet, and I didn’t really believe her. I thought it would be easier to bond over ribbons and ballet shoes, painted nails, and fairy godmothers.
I don’t say this very often, but I was wrong. I am proud of you every single day, and I am enjoying every minute of watching you grow. I wouldn’t trade your stinky soccer cleats, bathroom humor, bad table manners, and funky dance moves for all the pink tulle in the world.
So this week, on your tenth birthday, I will celebrate the baby that you were, the boy that you are, and the young man that you are becoming with pride that I am your mother, and gratitude for your birthmother who gave me the opportunity.
I love you with all my heart.