You are 13 today. How are we here already? How is it that 13 years have passed, and I can still remember so vividly all of your days? Your smiles? Your funny toddler quotes? It all seems like just yesterday, but then I look over at you, and you are so grown up. So much a young man. And I am so proud.
You are a wonderful young man. I want to say that you are a wonderful kid, but it doesn't seem right to call you a kid anymore. That makes my heart ache with nostalgia, and yet, at the same time it bursts with joy at the young man you have become.
I've been thinking all day about the many things that I love about you, the things that are uniquely "you".
1. You made my dream come true; you made me a Mom. I always knew I wanted to have children. I always knew I would love my children, but I was amazed and astounded at how powerful the love was when I saw you for the first time. That love has only grown along with you. And it always will.
2. You are a Little Man. In fact, that was your dad's nickname for you when you were a baby. "Little Man". You've always seemed older than you really are. Serious, devoted, principled. And yet, you are the first to jump at the chance of adventure, of a new experience. You remind me of this man I met and fell in love with fourteen years ago.
3. You love chocolate the way I love chocolate. Your dad may scratch his head in puzzlement as you order a double-death-by-chocolate-cake-with-extra-hot-fudge-sauce or request a chocolate fudge truffle cake (like you did for your birthday), but I will always understand. Always.
4. When you are interested in something, you research it and study it and learn everything you possibly can about it. I love that you want to learn and grow. This is a trait that will serve you well in life.
5. You may not be very outwardly expressive with your emotions, but you feel very deeply. You are loyal. When you love, you really love.
6. You like to have fun. I love to watch you enjoying life here. You smile more - the same kind of smile I've seen you wear while running around in the country at Grandpa's farm with your cousin Andrew. It tells me that we made the right decision changing everything to come here.
7. You are responsible and dependable. You honor your word. You never complain when we ask something of you.
8. You are adaptable. Even when you don't want to do something, you just get it done. You do what you need to do.
9. You have a wonderful work ethic. Your dad and I could never have moved the family across the country without your help. You packed up, you loaded and loaded and loaded up, you carried more than you should have had to, but you did it all knowing there was a prize at the end of the trip: Colorado. You wouldn't stop for a break until your dad and I made you, because despite your protests, we knew you needed it.
10. You watch out for Joel and Emma. You are protective of them. They are blessed to have you.
11. You aren't afraid to speak your mind. That amazes me. You didn't get that from me. You challenge me to not be afraid, to be secure in who I am and who God has made me to be.
12. You geek out on cool stuff. Like Doctor Who and The Lord of the Rings.
13. You reason and think through things. You have shown us your engineering mind since you were a toddler. What a remarkable mind it is!
14. You put up with my silliness. And when no one else is around, you can be pretty silly yourself.
15. You are giving to others. You care about others' needs. You are considerate of others' feelings.
16. When we go hiking or biking you are always the one out in front leading, challenging, encouraging.
I could go on and on. After all, I've had 13 years to get to know you.
How blessed am I? I get to have a front row seat at God's plan for your future. I get to see all of the amazing steps you will take. Wherever those steps take you, I will be right behind you. I will fight for you, and I will be your biggest fan. (Your dad has always called me "The Advocate" when it comes to you and your brother and sister.) I will protect you. I won't back down. I couldn't love you more than I already do. And I will love you like that always and forever.