Today my son turns thirteen.
Nine and a half years ago I brought this tiny preschooler home. He came from an emergency foster care situation, so he pretty much had the clothes on his back. Our foster care system is extremely overburdened, but I don't think most people realize that when you take on a child from the system, you receive nothing but the clothes on the child's back. He had no bed, no carseat, nothing. We had, in a frenzy, collected as much as we could to prepare for him. Garage sales were our best friend.
I couldn't imagine then what he would be like now. That this little child would grow into a handsome, funny young man. That he would have amazing talents in art and sports. That he would be so attached to me. I also never imagined that whatever was going on with him, was more than I could love him out of. I was incredibly naive but wanted more than anything to be a good parent. Foster, kinship, or otherwise. I wanted to do right by him.
Looking at him today, I think I have done my very best. His life will always be challenging. He faces challenges most of us can't imagine, but he hasn't given up. He's courageous, this boy, and I admire him for that.
I don't really have a lot to say about who he is that won't sound contrived and passionately "motherly". What I can say is that I love him more than I could have imagined ten years ago. And thirteen is a wonderful number.
Happy birthday, sweetie. Mom loves you. Always.