I can scarcely believe you are turning 9. It seems like just yesterday I held you in the hospital bed maternity ward, thinking you looked kind of like a turtle, wondering what I had got myself into and hoping not to screw everything up. The good news is, you seem fine so I probably didn’t (or I did, and you are remarkably resilient). You seem better than fine, actually. I am so proud of you.
I love your feisty opinions and strong sense of social justice. Like the day you decided that we couldn’t shop at a popular chain of coffee shops because they don’t pay their staff enough. Or when you tried to convince your family to donate to bringing clean water to Africa and looked so crestfallen when the annual fundraiser came around again. You are always pretty sure you resolved water quality issues the year before and are disappointed there is still work to be done.
I love that you show up for people. You advocate for “no phone snuggle time” and you always take the time to tell me how much you love me and how proud you are of me. I am buoyed by your enthusiasm and compassion. I remember you sitting by your step-dad when his grandma passed away and telling him “I’m sorry you’re hurting. I know what that feels like, I’ve been there myself.” Your insight is what makes your soul seem so old.
I love the way you tell stories, the way your whole face lights up and the dramatic, descriptive language you use. Everything becomes an adventure and it’s an inspiring way to look at the world. I love the way you hug and snuggle and climb into my bed in the morning to eke out just one more hug.
I love the way you accept others. You accept and welcome your friends with differences and have compassion for things they might struggle with. Empathy is your super power and I love watching you try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and imagine how they must be feeling. You are incredible, my child.
I am thankful for your grace and compassion for others when they make mistakes. While you still struggle to let go of that one time your step dad took a bite of your muffin on the playground in the summer of 2014, otherwise, you are so much more forgiving than I. I thought I wanted you to be like me when you grew up but it turns out, I want to be like you.
Happy birthday, bud.