I just stole away to the bedroom after dodging my way through hundreds of nerf bullets that were flying through the house. Eight boys and two girls were fighting what they called an “epic” nerf gun battle throughout our entire house. I put headphones in my ears and the sounds of Lily Kershaw are drowning out the screams of pre-teen boys echoing through the walls. Moments ago, I sat on top of our kitchen counter and talked with Chad who was leaning against the counter on the other side of the kitchen. We talked, our voices raised over the rambunctious crowd that ran around our house.
Can you believe he’s 12? I said to Chad.
He looked at me like I had horns growing out of my ears. No one here is 12, he commented.
I stared at him and let the silence sit for a moment.
Chad’s eyes got big, He’s 12, he said slowly.
For a moment, we mused about how in our minds he’s still 10. Chanelle is 8. And Meadow is. . well, Meadow. In reality, I remember a time when my mind never let Charlie get past age 5. The year told me he was 7, but my mind kept him at 5. The passage of time can give us whiplash if we aren’t careful and most of the time, we are racing simply to catch up with the speed at which they are growing.
But it’s true, he’s 12 today. Twelve years old. Twelve years ago he made me a Mama. He made us parents. Twelve years ago he entered our world forever changing us.
Today, is for Charlie. . .
There are so many things I forget in a day. So many things I have forgotten in my life. I’ve forgotten appointments. I go to the grocery store and forget my list. Let’s face it, I remember my list and forget to look at it. I often forgot where I put my phone. . . or my car. Sometimes, I forget to put on shoes before I leave the house and I often forget my age. Oh, and there was the shameful time that I forgot Chanelle’s preschool graduation started at 4:30 not at 5:00.
Yes, I forget so many things.
But do you want to know something I haven’t forgotten? Something I don’t think I’ll ever forget? A day that is so etched in my brain it has become as much a part of me as the lines on my hands. The day you were born, Charlie. Twelve years have passed, but the details of your birth-day are as vivid as if it happened yesterday.
Charlie, we were scared before you were born. In the days leading up to your birth, Daddy and I sat in what would soon be your nursery and we talked about the changes that were about to take place. We talked about how scary it was to bring a baby into the world. We feared that a baby would change who we were. That our life would look different. We worried that being parents would change everything–because before you came everything was so good.
And all those fears we had leading up to your arrival were real, Charlie. All that we feared, did happen. Having a baby did change us. Our lives did look different. Being parents did change everything. Before we had you everything was good, Charlie. After we had you, though? After the hours and hours and hours of labor, after the announcement of “It’s a boy!”, after your tiny 5lb frame was placed in my arms? Life was even better.
Life we sweeter.
Life was fuller.
You added so much to our already beautiful life.
In truth, though, Charlie? After the doctor looked at me and her voice rang out and broke the intensity that had built up over several hours, I had a moment of panic.
A boy? A boy. Whatever will I do with a boy?
Twelve years later I laugh at the fears I had on the very first day. I laugh at my thoughts that I had to have all the answers. I chuckle at my early belief that I had to know ahead of time what I was doing. In reality, doing life with you these 12 years has been an adventure for which I couldn’t have been prepared. An adventure that I never could have imagined.
As much as you and I (and the whole world) know how I grieve the changing seasons, your growth, I have also learned that there are incredible joys in watching you grow. This year, more than ever, I have watched you grow into yourself. I have watched your friendships grow, your interests grow, and your ability to navigate the world grow. You have become stronger, braver, and more confident in who you are.
And who you are, Charlie? I’m not sure I can even wrap words around it. You are an incredible boy. And 12 years ago, if I would have written down all the qualities I would hope for the little baby that was just placed in my arms–well, it wouldn’t have been as good as the reality of you.
Charlie, I am so grateful for your fun and adventurous spirit. Your willingness to try new things. To risk failing, as opposed to never trying.
And Charlie, one of your greatest gifts is your tender, sensitive heart. As much as you like to run, and move, and play, and go-go-go, there is this other side of you that is so incredibly special. Your heart, Charlie. Your heart and the ability you have to feel deeply, while sometimes might feel like a curse, is an incredible gift. Charlie, I hope you never lose that. As the days and years move forward, I hope you allow your heart to remain open to feel all that it is to be alive. That tender heart that you carry in your chest is one of your greatest assets. . .
And Charlie, I know that there are times when you wish you had a brother. When you wish you were not outnumbered by the girls in this house. There are times when you feel it’s just not fair. But Charlie, I want you to know this–your sisters LOVE having you as a brother. I see the way they both look up to you, the way they want to hang out with you, the way they watch what you do and follow your lead.
Charlie, you are an incredible big brother.
Charlie, we are so proud to call you our son. We could have never imagined on that late night 12 years ago how much a little baby boy would change our lives. We could have never imagined the immense joy that your life would add to our life.
And just as we didn’t know what the future held 12 years ago, we still have no idea what your future holds. But Charlie? We are so excited to see where you go. We are so incredibly excited to watch you continue to grow into the person you will one day be. We see it already–your integrity. Your humility. Your drive. Your heart. Charlie, we believe that there are no limits for you. Today and alway, Charlie, Daddy and I will stand proud in your balcony cheering you on in any path you choose.
We are so proud of you, Charlie.
We are thankful to call you our son.
You are so very loved.
Happy Birthday, Charlie.
I love you,