Today, you are seven. As you told us last night, "Every day we are becoming more mature."
Yes, my dearest. Every day. You are. Daddy is. And so am I. You have, in large part, made us into the people we are today -- better than we'd have been without you by this point, that is for certain.
We are flooded with love for you, and yet we've learned to swim, to thrive in it rather than be swept away.
You make us laugh. Your first joke was about nursing. There have been so many more over the years from the endless tomato jokes to the ones you read to us from your magazines. Daddy is always better at guessing the real answer, but my creative answers make you laugh. Oh, how you laugh. With your whole vibrant yum-up-the-world-right-now-in-one-big-hug self.
You have been a challenge from the get-go. I think we've all mellowed a bit with age.
I love your smile and your friendliness and how anywhere we go you are proud of your family and you are excited to be right in the thick of whatever action is whirring 'round. We go into a Target, you make two friends. At the park, you always invite others to play. You put yourself out there. I love that.
I just like you so much. And so does Daddy. We three have a good time, don't we? I like that we love books and board games and music and good food and spending time together. I love how you love ALL your family, just the same. Diggy and Papa and Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Dana and Uncle Jeff and all the cousins and even Bert the Dog, and me and Daddy, just. the. same. We are, as you say, "in my family."
I love how the other day when you called to see if Henry could spend the night you left a message for Katherine and let slip at the end, "Love you...." Even though she is not technically in our family. Even though you might not take it back, but you aren't willing to engage with the fact of having said it. Having felt it.
Like with Mrs. Arms, your undisputed favorite teacher ever (except for Heather, your Christ Teacher, and mine, too) you wouldn't hug her forever but instead you'd give her a belly bump. She was a miracle for you. She really got you, in a way no other teacher had. I know she must be so proud of how much your handwriting has matured, to use your word. You have worked hard for it.
We enjoy you. Even when you are cranky or scared or angry or fretful or having a belly ache. We enjoy your love of vampires and Harry Potter, of Legos and backroads instead of interstates. We enjoy that you are still so snuggly every morning when you wake up, and that you run to us after school or anytime we've not seen you for a bit. We delight in watching you play soccer and tennis, and focus all your energies on neater handwriting and organization. It makes me laugh that there's a plastic action figure of Dr. Doom on top of my canister of Rosewood bath salts by the tub.
Last night after we read our Harry Potter chapter and Daddy fell asleep with you, I came in to get him. He and I crawled into bed and I told him, "What a wonderful boy we have been given." "Yes," he said. We are so thankful.
Remember your birthday last year? You were six. You and I had a picnic and cupcakes with Papa and Diggy when she was in Vanderbilt ICU. You were afraid of her IVs and the way she was hooked up to a catheter bag. Over the last year when she's been so sick and so far away from herself as you knew her before, you have been pretty amazing. You have hugged her and kissed her and told her about your life and prayed for her and spent a lot of time with Papa, too. I know you have brought them joy.
Thank you, my boy, for letting me be your mother, for being in this life with us -- this sweet sweet sweet little messy God filled life.
With all my love,