Today you turn 23! It’s hard to believe as it seems just like yesterday that I met you for the first time. A mere five hours old, all bundled up and looking like a little old man. Your fresh baby toes had me smitten from the moment I lay eyes on them and if ever I could come close to feeling the love a parent feels for their child, I am thinking this might have been the moment. I remember holding you for hours on end after you came home from the hospital. You were such an easy baby, always happy and only really making noise when you were hungry.
From an early age on people were drawn to you. Maybe because of the beautiful blonde curls (that your father refused to cut off for the longest time) or that your general happiness showed all over your face, but wherever we went people wanted to connect with you, other kids wanted to be friends with you. There was just something about you that made loving you so easy. You were easily pleased and the smallest gifts made you happy, if only you could be home. Home was your favorite place and every time we took a trip you would ask us at the second street light when we would go back to the house or you would inform us that we were “really far away from home now!” To this day change remains one of your biggest challenges.
You were always a true delight to be around and I loved spending time with you. In fact one of my fondest memories was the year that your sister decided we were not worthy her visitation and you came to stay with us by yourself. We spent a lot of one-on-one time together especially during your summer break. You only went to camp for a few hours in the morning and every afternoon I took you to the YMCA for swim camp and watched you take the pool like a duck to water. We always cooked your favorite meals each night and talked about the great day we had. This was also the first summer you walked home from camp by yourself, although I did meet you half way and you made a friend across the street which opened up your world of playing outside in their vast backyard and exploring the neighborhood, doing what boys do.
Slowly you grew into a young man and the teenage years were not exactly an easy time for you. Your sister’s serious and chronic illness had taken over most of your family life and although your dad and I tried to devote our time to you we could not make up for what you were missing in your other home. You have always loved the idea of a family and for the longest time dreamed of having us live right next to your mother’s house and I think the fact that your family life was so disruptive had a profound effect on you. Now that you are grown I only wish that you will one day find the comfort and security you have been looking for with your own family.
This is your second birthday that you celebrate without your sister and I think back how happy this week used to be when you were little and we celebrated both your birthdays on the same day with parties and strawberry cream cake from Drager’s. I remember the year your dad built you a full swing set and the year you got your first electric car (you were so excited you could not stop smiling), trips to Disney Land and the East Coast.
Over the years I have often looked back to your childhood and how much I adored you, how much I loved spending time with you and one of the hardest things has been watching you struggle in your later years. At times that little boy was still visible, allowing me a glimpse of what could have been. I realize you did not get a fair shake in life, not even close, and although your dad and I did and do love and care for you to the best of our ability we have not always lived up to your expectations of what life should be like. I wish it could have been different, I wish you could have found what you so desperately sought, I wish all the grown ups in your life could have seen you the way I saw you, as someone who literally brought sunshine into a room!
I love you and I only hope that the future will treat you better than the past!
Today’s Running Tip: Running together is a great way to bond!
When your child is old enough and shows an interest in running, have him or her join you even if you have to slow down your pace a little or even a lot. Going through the paces of running together will help you form or strengthen a bond that will be hard to break. If your child is still to young to run invest in a good jogging stroller and get them out the door with you.