To My Oldest on his 7th Birthday

My precious boy with the name of a gladiator …or a dictator…not sure which.  Your father told me your name on our 3rd date.  I had the feeling it was a deal breaker for whether or not we’d move forward. I loved the rich history of the name of two of your great-great grandfathers before you.  It would be 8 years before we had a son but we always knew what your name would be.

I tell you, you are my heart.  You are.  I get you. You and I understand each other more than anyone else because we are so similar.  We both know when a circumstance makes the other nervous or sad, even before we show it to the rest of the world. Sometimes it’s to our own detriment as we see how much we hurt each other with our words or our bad moods.

When I tell you I love you, you quickly respond that you love me too, yet when you are unsure about something, you need that reassurance so much.  You who love others so deeply and fiercely. I wish it would sink into your skin and your bones, becoming part of you, who you are, so that you would know, I LOVE YOU. You. are. loved. I don’t want you to question our love and support of you or have it affect your confidence.

You who love to share the details and features of your Lego creation or the book you just read.  You notice –everything, just like me. Each of your teachers tell me how you are first on the scene when someone is hurt.  You comfort and your kindness knows no limits. 

I notice how you want so very much to do the right thing, all the time, perfectly.  You know it will make me happy but more than that, it is the right thing to do, you feel very strongly about this. Like your favorite president, Thomas Jefferson, you are curious about EVERYTHING and want to know all that you can.

I am not sure if our similarities make me the perfect or worst match to be your mother. Watching you can be so embarrassing sometimes.  You are a mirror in which I see how awkward, obvious or needy I can be and it’s painful.  I both want to give you everything and withhold it all, hoping it will make you will grow strong and resilient.

But you are.  You laugh at yourself and your mistakes, something I didn’t learn until I was 30. Each day I see you get better at attempting new things, even if it is hard for you.  You have something else I didn’t have, two parents who are rooting for you the whole time.  We see you.  We make every decision on how it will affect you and your brother.  You also have the most amazing father who balances us all out.  I may be full of neuroses but he has absolutely none. 

So I watch you grow.  Seven seems like a big birthday as you have your own mind and personality now.  You have your own inner life, separate from me and your father.  You think of yourself as apart from your brother now as before you would confuse your own thoughts and words with his. You are your own person.  Smart, thoughtful, kind, headstrong, curious, I know you will not be a gladiator or dictator, thank God, but like those who have come before you, a leader with resilience.