Today our son is fourteen.
Last year was the beginning of being a teenager, and that was a big deal too. But for some reason, fourteen seems so much older. At fourteen, you're a breath away from high school and all the drama that brings. He has started to date--simple dates, mainly to the movies--but enough to remind me he's not a baby anymore. Fourteen year olds are growing up, growing older, and a year farther away from being a little kid. My little kid.
Today I've spent a lot of time thinking about him when he was a preschooler. His haircut, his tiny clothes, his bed that was so big in comparison to his tiny body. Character underwear and action figures and baths. Snuggles and kisses and hugs. How he and his little sister would eat at a little tykes picnic table we kept in our tiny apartment, and how he loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. His huge, beautiful eyes and long lashes. His love of swimming and riding his tricycle, of mastering new things. Puzzles and games and art and even his own speech.
I would imagine that most mothers fondly recall time spent with their babies upon their children's birthdays. Of hours spent in the hospital giving birth, of newborn cries and comfort, of learning to respond to their babies. My memories are similar, just later. Of a little boy turning four, his party at the local park, his excitement.
This is the child that I didn't give birth to but cared for his every need. And every birthday brought new accomplishments and new challenges. All the days in between birthdays, consisting of daily learning and daily struggles for us all. But even in the hardest of moments, he has always been my beautiful boy.
Happy birthday to you, my handsome teenaged son. You are loved and adored for exactly who you are.