You told me twelve is no big deal, and that’s cool, it’s not a milestone. But today is still your day, the celebration of the first time I met you, so that’s always a big deal in my book. Let’s say this: I can be chill every day of your middle school life, but you have to give me this one day to say all the things. I think it’s a safe deal to make. I’ve known you for a minute (6,307,200 minutes to be exact), and you don’t mind the sappy stuff as much as some do.
You make me smile. All the time. It’s how being a mom has helped me understand God better: when I think of you, I am filled with happiness. Not because I think you’re perfect or because of anything you’ve done for me. I’m just so happy that you are. Your life makes me happy. I’ve always been told that’s how God feels about us, and knowing you has helped me understand how that could be true.
I think maybe the biggest part of my job from here on is to remind you of that. Most of what you need to be the kind of man you want to be you will learn from your Papi. A whole lot of it you already have. I still get to make sure you have everything you need and drive you to where you’re going and listen when you do feel like talking and call you out on your crap sometimes. But my main job is to be the living, breathing reminder of how much you are loved. Wherever I am right now and forever, that’s where you can look to find someone who is deeply and completely happy that you exist in the world.
I’ve been thinking about the things that I love most about you at twelve. I love how eagerly you embrace responsibility. You want to be in there, getting things done. You want things to be expected of you. Covering first base or serving at church or manning the grill for a family party, you consistently choose not to complain but to step up to what’s asked of you. I don’t get to take any credit for that, but it makes me so proud anyway.
I can’t even believe how hard you can work. I know running cross country was so miserable in the beginning of this season, but all on your own, you stuck with it. You worked hard at practice even when you hated it. Your coach noticed your grit and so did your teammates. It was one of the few times in your life that you surprised even me. Listen, I’ve always known you were brilliant and talented, and I knew you had character and determination. But your willingness to dig down and work when it wasn’t fun is a new level of maturity. You were always going to be the smartest person in most rooms. If you combine that with also being the hardest working person, there’s nothing you won’t be able to do.
I love how deeply you enjoy and appreciate your life. I mean, you should. You have an awesome life. But it’s not actually that common for kids to be aware of that. At least a dozen times in the last few months you’ve said out of the blue, “I love my life,” or “We have such a great life.” That makes me so happy, not just because I’ve worked hard and enjoy the appreciation (though I do) but because what I want most for you is that you’ll be truly, lastingly happy, and appreciating what you have is the key to that kind of contentment.
I love how much you love the rest of us. You’re off in your own world a lot more than you used to be, and that’s totally cool. There’s a lot going on in your head these days. But you come out of your head when you’re ready, and you want us to be together and to talk and to laugh. You have a lot to say and a lot to ask. You have YouTube videos to show me, and punny jokes to tell. Thanks for being so fun to hang out with.
There’s so much more that I love about you, but I have to go watch you run in a few minutes, so I’ll leave it there for now. That’s really our life these days anyway. I could say a lot of words, but it’s better to spend my energy working to keep up with you.
I love that I get to live life with you. I love being your mom.
I love you.