My son. My firstborn. I’m so grateful for you. And yes, my heart is full of those bittersweet milestone emotions because today you become a nine-year-old boy. It’s hard to believe my baby boy is nine years old. Because I remember this day so vividly. The first day I held you in my arms and fell in love with everything about you. (Nevermind my double chin.)
The past year has been a big year for you. You continued doing the things you know and love. You did them with passion and excellence.
The past year has also been a year of challenge and change for you. You were forced to grow and mature. I actually anticipated some big kid challenges when I wrote last year’s birthday letter. This wasn’t the easiest year for you. You were forced out of your comfort zone more than a few times. For example…
Moving to the upper-grade play yard at school. You were nervous about the “older kid bullies and mean kids.” You were comfortable being the big kid on the lower-grade play yard and you did not welcome this change. Of course, your Mama Bear wanted to supervise every potential play yard threat. And stop those “older kid bullies and mean kids” in their tracks. But really, I knew you could handle this challenge. And you did. You not only survived on the upper-grade play yard, you thrived. I know this because sometimes, this Mama Bear spies on you when I drop you off at school in the morning. You’re doing just fine, Little Bear. Don’t ever let your fears hold you back.
Losing on the soccer field. Over and over again. You are a true competitor and you are driven to win. You work hard, you play hard and you play to win. You were born this way and I often pray for wisdom to help you channel it in the best way possible. So, this year’s losing soccer season (though I think you may have tied one game), on top of last year’s losing soccer season, rocked you to the core. But your passion for the sport and your loyalty to your team did not get kicked to the curb. Your coach was amazing and instilled solid soccer skills. Like passing to your team members. And striving for your personal best. And sure, we dealt with a few fouls, like your angered “This ref is terrible!” and “The other team is playing so cheap!” But you got past the blame game and finished the season as a better player. And a better person. So don’t ever give up, son.
Dealing with a broken friendship. This was your biggest challenge this past year, and it broke my heart to watch you struggle through it. I wanted to jump in and fix it. To demand reconciliation. To force the friendship. But I came to my senses and tried to encourage you through it. It was your challenge to face. The details of what happened aren’t important. But the friendship was important to you and you were sad and confused. For months. While I can’t pinpoint a redemptive outcome, it was definitely a life lesson. That tough life lesson of dealing with disappointment and moving through it. Unfortunately, we are never immune to this lesson. But I will always be here to encourage you when it’s hard to let go.
Though this year has been one of challenge and change, you have stayed true to yourself. Your amazing self. I’ve always had a strong sense of who you are, Jack. A clear picture of the amazing person God made you to be. I’ve known this since you were just an infant. And I think it’s clear to you, too.
You are loving. You are sensitive. You are compassionate. You are strong. You are a helper. You are a friend. You are creative. You are smart. You are a hard worker. You are a justice-seeker. You are driven. You are a leader.
So today, on your ninth birthday, we celebrate you and all of your amazing attributes. We are so proud of you and thankful for the gift you are to our family and to this world.
Happy Birthday, Jack William! May all your hopes and dreams come true.
I love you, as big as the ocean and all the way up to Heaven!
Mommy (Yes, every once in a while you still call me Mommy, so I’m claiming it.)