Each year I write a birthday letter to my sweet boy. This year’s letter is a bit late in coming, but it has finally arrived!
To my favorite boy in the whole wide world,
I am so in love with you, and I am so proud of you! You are such a compassionate, helpful, funny boy and I’m so glad you are my son. I have watched you take such care of those who are smaller than you—helping out babies and toddlers, being an amazing friend and trying to care for them. I have watched you show concern and care for others—stoping to pray for people we see who need help, kissing my “boo boos,” and offering hugs to everyone. I have watched you blossom into a funny and fun loving boy—telling jokes, laughing with others, and including others. I have watched you stick up for yourself—asking for help when needed and talking out conflicts that arise. I have watched as you have learned to talk about your feelings and how to cope with them—even when doing so exasperates you. (“I don’t have any more deep breaths!” you’ve been known to say on more than one occasion.) I have watched you learn empathy and compassion for others. I have watched you face tough transitions this year and handle them like a champ. I am so thankful that I get to be your mommy!
This year was a year of so many changes and big events in our lives. Only a few months into your fourth year we celebrated your adoption! We had been together for over 2 years, but I am so happy that we are “officially” a forever family. You are truly a gift from God, and I am so thankful he brought us together. It is not lost on me that the joy of your adoption also comes with a significant loss. My heart breaks for that loss, for the pain that it brings with it, both now and in the future. I want you to know that it’s ok to feel that pain and grief, that it doesn’t threaten the bonds of our family. It’s ok to be sad and angry about that loss, know that those feelings are normal and natural. Know also that I will always love you. There is nothing that could ever change that. Nothing. I will love you when you are sweet and adorable and hilarious. I will love you when you are tired and overwhelmed and confused. I will love you when you are angry and raging and lashing out at the world. I will love you when you are silly and wild and scaring me to death with your latest dare-devil stunt. I will love you when you are scared and confused and frustrated. I will love you when you have soaked me with water or shaving cream or food. I will love you forever.
Less than a week after your adoption we headed out of New York and moved to Illinois! A whole avalanche of changes was headed your way. You went to a new school and a new daycare. You moved into a new home with new neighbors. You discovered the joy of living in a house instead of an apartment and began exploring the backyard and the neighborhood. You spent time with family you had barely met before and learned about the joys of aunts and uncles and cousins and grandma. You learned of new parks and lakes and discovered the joys of Dairy Queen ice cream cones. Throughout all these changes you were a champ. You showed such resilience and grew so much closer as you began to trust in our relationship in a brand new way.
It has been so incredible to see your personality emerge even more this year as you became more confident, comfortable, and verbal. I have loved watching you pretend and be creative. One of my favorite times is when you decided to put on a show for us—you pushed back an imaginary curtain while you said “curtain open, curtain open,” then you picked up your microphone and Bible and pretended to read us a story, then you sang a few songs, pushed the imaginary curtain closed, and said “curtain closed, curtain closed.” You love playing with blocks and have developed a talent for building car washes and gas stations for your toy cars. You LOVE stuffed animals and have a collection of probably a hundred different bears, dogs, cats, bunnies, and various other creatures. You try to take as many of them to daycare with you as possible, much to the chagrin of the daycare staff. Two of your stuffed animals are as big as you —Big Doggy and Big Teddy. I joke that Big Doggy is your therapy dog because you always want him when you are upset. You are an amazing helper and love to clean. You have made good friends and begun to interact with other kids in new, exciting ways. You have a great memory and often want to talk through things that happened months ago. You have been doing so well in swim lessons—after we moved they had your class go to the diving board and jump off. Most kids were scared and needed someone to pick them up and drop them in. Not you. You are fearless. You just leaped off that diving board and ran back for more! You love reading books and riding your bike or pulling a wagon. You love cooking—you can bake cupcakes all by yourself (apart from using the oven) and love to help cook whatever is for dinner. And iPad—you love watching iPad a little too much. You are the cutest boy ever—you’re so adorable with your sparkling eyes and one dimple. When you laugh your joy is infectious. Unless of course you’re laughing because you just soaked me with the garden hose. Then your joy is not so infectious. But I still love you.
I am so amazed at how far you have come—you are learning and growing and impressing me with new skills all the time. I know it’s hard sometimes. Being a little kid is hard sometimes. Being a little kid who struggles with the weight of trauma, special needs, and delays is incredibly hard. I know we grown ups don’t get it all the time. But you have so many people who love you and are cheering for you! And you have a mommy who will fight for you like a crazy, scary momma-bear every day. Because you matter. You are important and valuable. You are brave and strong. You are helpful and caring. You are loving and smart. You are funny and sweet. And I love you. I pray that God will give you the confidence to know these things about yourself, to be confident in who you are, to be confident in my love for you, and especially in his love and care for you.
Here are a few pictures of our amazing year together.
Each year I interview you for your birthday and celebrate all the special, unique things about you. Here is your time capsule from 2016!
Mommy: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Austin: A school bus driver or a school bus.
Mommy: Do you want to get married when you grow up?
Austin: Yes, I like married.
Mommy: Do you want to have kids one day?
Austin: (Puts his hand on his face) No!
Mommy: What is your favorite thing about yourself?
Austin: I’m a boy.
Mommy: What is your favorite thing to do at school?
Mommy: What do you like to play with?
Austin: A train.
Mommy: What do you like to do for fun?
Austin: Watch iPad. Play with Play Doh.
Mommy: What is your favorite thing about mommy?
Austin: I love you.
Mommy: I love you too.
Austin: I like to eat with you.
Mommy: Who are your best friends?
Austin: Donald Duck
Mommy: What is your favorite holiday?
Austin: Family night
Mommy: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Austin: To get that racetrack (a toy he’s been asking for)
Mommy: Anywhere you want to visit?
Austin: Church, but I’ll be too big for it.
Mommy: You won’t be too big for church.
Austin: Yeah, because I’ll get too big for my class one day.
Mommy: Oh, ok. Is there anywhere you’d like to go on vacation?
Austin: To visit Nana.
Mommy: What is your favorite memory of last year?
Austin: Going to the airport to get Nana. Moving to our new house.
Mommy: What is one thing you really want to do this year?
Austin: Get that race track.
Mommy: What is something else you want to do?
Austin: (proceeds with a 15 minute conversation about the race track, the number of cars included with the race track, the elevator on the race track, the potential for someone stealing the race track, the amount of money he has saved up to buy the race track, etc.)
Mommy: What is something you want to do, not a toy you want to have?
Austin: Go to a pool party.
What is your favorite . . .
Toy: Cars, my airplane
Drink: Root beer floats
Food: Cheeseburger and french fries and apple sauce
Activity: Going to the water park
Song: “Tooty Ta” and “Wheels on the Bus”
TV Show: Paw Patrol
Movie: Despicable Me
Book: Paw Patrol books
Ice Cream: Twist
Color: White and Brown
Candy: Peanut M-n-M’s and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
Stuffed Animal: Skye
Game: “The Elsa Game” aka Frozen Slides