Today, you are 7

Dear Rye,

Today, you are 7.

Holy, moly, cow. You are 7.

At 1:59 a.m. seven years ago, you finally entered this world. I was 25 and naive. Giving birth was nothing I could have prepared for. I remember saying, in the early hours of the morning on your birth day long ago, that I’d rather run two marathons back to back then ever do that again.

Ha. I was nothing if I wasn’t dramatic.

But I was in love. With a sweet baby boy. And you were instantly worth every second of pain, every millisecond of effort. I’d had a baby.

And you were the most beautiful, most precious thing I’d ever seen.

My life changed forever that day. Of course it did. I cannot imagine who I would be without you.

In as many ways as you are still my beautiful baby who needs his mom, you are also my too-grown-up adolescent with his own opinions, his own sense of humor, his own style and his own fears.

You are amazing.

You are sensitive and passionate and quiet and determined. You are still figuring this world out (me, too), and you handle yourself with a quiet serenity I wish I had. You think before you speak and I am so proud of the mature child you have become.

The changes you’ve handled so far in your life have been many. And while I wish our path would have been easier, I cannot tell you how proud I am of you for waking up every morning, getting dressed and getting on with this life with your head held high, with that quiet look in your eye that tells me, “Mom, we’re going to be OK.”

I know you carry a lot on the inside. I know you worry. I know sometimes your feelings get hurt. I know sometimes the anger burns.

But listen to me, babe: We are OK. Our path now is paved. And we’re headed up to the hills where the skies are clear and the air is crisp and where little boys can worry a little less about the weight of the grown-up world and just be … little boys.

Over the years, as I’ve tucked you in and said goodnight, I’ve whispered these words to you: “You know how much I love you? You are my sweet, smart, strong, special boy. I’m always here for you. I love you forever.”

And then I say sweet dreams and turn off the light. You used to go straight to sleep. Now, because you’re no longer a baby or a toddler or a preschooler, you use your iPod. You play games and listen to songs I don’t even know. You get up and use the restroom on your own. You come out and put your glass of water by the kitchen sink. You act … grown-up.

There’s no question you are your own thinking, feeling, breathing human being with your own tastes, your own humor, your own style. (Those Baby Gap hoodies I dressed you in as a toddler wouldn’t make the cut anymore. I know.). You have me “do” your hair in the morning before school.

Last night, I read your sister a book that I used to read over and over to little-boy you. You walked in at the part you used to say with me. As I read the lines of “The Apple Pie Tree” I could hear so-much-smaller you saying them with me and almost, I remembered what it was like to have you on my lap instead, to steal kisses on your cheek, to catch a whiff of your hair, to feel what it’s like to have a son to hold onto. That is a memory I will always keep.

Thank you for being sweet, strong, smart, brave, special you.

Happy 7th birthday, baby.

I love you forever, my special boy.

Mom

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