The first will always be something special. Something incomparable to anything else that ever happens in life. The first time absolute, unconditional love really makes sense. The first time an undistorted view of the heart is really captured. It happens in an instant. . . or at least it did for me, the moment I laid eyes on my first-born.
It has been eleven years since that chilly October day and yet every detail of those hours are as vivid as if it happened yesterday. Eleven years ago today, after a full day of resistance, a tiny five pound baby boy entered the world, setting my heart aflame with a kind of love I’d never felt before.
I remember so much about the days and weeks leading up to Charlie’s arrival. I remember the fear Chad and I felt about how a baby would change our world. I remember the anxiety we felt about how a baby might change what was already so good between us. Would we still be “us”? Would we be good parents? Are we ready for all the changes that are to come?
Looking back, I realize that before October 28th, 2005 at 11:44 p.m., we were not ready. However, somehow, at 11:45 p.m., everything fell into place. At 11:43 we were simply ‘Chad & Summer’ and by 11:45 we were a family. At 11:45 “us” become so much more. The moment Charlie was born, so was the mother in me.
So, I come here today, as I do every year, and I write to my first born. I write, knowing that today my words mean very little, but trusting that someday my words will be more valuable than any gift that can be contained by wrapping paper in bows.
Today is, and always will be, for my son.
You are eleven years old today. I can’t believe it’s been 11 years since you meandered, ever so slowly, into the world and opened our hearts in a way that they’d never been opened before. I can’t believe it’s been just 11 years since your presence taught us what love is all about. How have I only known about love, this special kind of love, for 11 short years?
Charlie, we were so scared before you were born. Scared that we didn’t know what we were doing. Scared that we would make mistakes. Scared about so many things. The truth is, still today, we are often scared. And we often make mistakes. Really, we very often don’t really know what we are doing. That’s the thing about kids and parents, especially the first-born and parents–we are all kind of figuring it out together. Charlie, I’m so thankful that we get to figure it all out with you.
Charlie, we are so delighted to call you ours. So delighted to figure it out with you. So delighted that it is your exuberant personality that greets us at each new stage.
Charlie, you bring so much energy to our family. You make us laugh and you keep us moving, moving, moving. Your adventurous spirit keeps us on the edge of our seats and I can’t imagine our home without the joy you bring to it.
And then there is your mind. So unique and deep and pure. So passionate and strong and creative. Your beautiful mind that allows curiosity to flow as freely as a raging river. Oh Charlie, how I admire your mind that, even at 11, understands things in ways that my mind cannot. Charlie, I hope you always let your curiosity lead you. I hope you always feel the freedom to build, explore, and make a path all your own.
And Charlie? I know it’s not a popular thing to talk about your heart. You’re 11 now–to talk about your heart, is, well, maybe uncool. Still, I can’t not mention it. I can’t not talk about your heart.
How can I not talk about the thing that I believe is one of your greatest gifts–how can I not mention your tender, open, heart. Charlie, you were very young when we began to see it. The way that you felt things. The way you allowed your heart to remain wide open to all the waves of emotions that came your way. The way you allow your heart to be open and stay open to love. I feel so lucky to be on the receiving end of your heart. Your tender heart. Your open vulnerable heart. If the world were made up of people with hearts like yours, Charlie, well, what a wonderful world that would be.
Our prayer for you, Charlie, is that your heart will always remain as open as it is today. . . as open as it’s always been. You see, I know that there are times when it would be so much easier to put a wall around your heart. To shut it down and to not feel so much. But Charlie? That heart you have? God gave it to you for a reason. . . your heart is perfectly suited for you. Please, Charlie, keep your heart tender. . . keep it open. Please Charlie, even when it’s difficult, embrace that beautiful, tender heart you were given.
Charlie, watching you grow is one of the hardest most wonderful things we’ve ever done. You see, when your tiny five pound frame was placed in my arms exactly 11 years ago, today seemed like forever away. Eleven years, seemed a lifetime away. But here we are, in what seems like a blink of an eye. That tiny baby that you once were is now a not so little boy who we are so proud to call ours. And as hard as it is to see the time pass so quickly, it is equally as wonderful to watch the incredible, person you are becoming.
Charlie, we are so proud of the way you walk so boldly into the world and figure life out. We are proud of your independence and the way you carry yourself. We are proud as we watch you discover more and more of who you are and the way you navigate yourself through the world. Charlie, you know who you are and we are so grateful that you are comfortable with the way you were so uniquely pieced together.
And Charlie? If ever you forget. If ever you need reminded. If ever you feel unsure. . . about yourself, your world, your life. . . I want you to know that we are here for you. We are here to stand beside you, support from behind, or if needed, to carry you. Charlie, for all of our days, we will be here to figure it out with you, whenever you need. We are here to cheer you along whatever path you choose. We are here to love you through all the peaks and valleys that will certainly come your way.
Charlie, you make our world better. You make us better. You make me better. You changed our world in the most beautiful way 11 years ago and you continue to do so today.
So we celebrate you, Charlie. We celebrate you today and we celebrate you everyday.
Our life is so much better because you are in it.
Happy Birthday, Charlie.
With All My Love. . .