The moment I found out about you, I was filled with fear. For me, for you, for the broken ideas that I had for our lives.
Then you turned one and you started spending nights with your dad. When you were home, I would watch you sleeping in your crib. And I would sob. And pray. And trace your perfectly round face with my fingertips. Our future looked bleak at that time. I saw myself going nowhere fast. And as for your future, well, I couldn’t see that either.
You started to walk and attempt real words that strung together in misshapen sentences. But I still carried the guilt of brokenness. I don’t know what others saw, I only knew what I saw every time we walked into our government funded apartment. I only knew how little I felt when you threw a tantrum because I had no clue what to do while everyone watched. Even while you were just blooming into childhood, I could see the turmoil you faced because our family was not whole.
As the years progressed, you became a step-son and a step-brother twice. I have watched you cry at bedtime because the next morning you were going to your dad’s house for the week. I have also watched you jump with excitement for the same reason. Either way, my heart strings are always pulled. Our home is incomplete without you. I don’t say this to make you feel bad. Not at all. I just want you to know how missed your are by all of us. I don’t think you realize how much joy and fun you bring into our lives when you come home.
Last year, first grade, that was a difficult year for all of us. Do you remember all the trouble you would get into? You always had homework to finish at home. You were behind in your reading – in comparison to your classmates, that is. You needed so much special attention. I felt I had failed you. Once again, my emotions put me back in your nursery when you were a sleeping baby. I would cry. And pray. I picked that heavy burden of guilt back up. It felt like your struggles were my fault. Once again I was watching you struggle with the see-saw of your family. At least, that’s what I thought. I may never really understand that time period, although finding out you couldn’t hear in one ear helped things a lot!
You have always been smart, resourceful and creative. You have also always battled those big emotions that threaten your goodness. The beautiful part of your story is that you fight for that goodness inside of you. And when you aren’t fighting for it, well, you know your dad is. And you know which dad we are talking about.
It’s because of this man in our lives that I don’t worry about you growing up confused as to how a man is supposed to act. I can finally, permanently, let some of the guilt go because you have a role model who will always steer you towards the right and true path. It’s just up to you to make your choice.
And this is where I become so proud of you. Just this morning, in fact. I heard you walk into the kitchen and tell your dad you loved him after you both had been having a rough time. Dad said, “Good job changing your attitude.” Michael, YOU made that choice. You are understanding how capable you are and I am loving watching you grow.
I love how you love to read. It’s another area that worried me truth be told. I heard about how much time was spent playing video games at your other parent’s house. And getting you to read was a struggle! But with second grade and turning eight, you have become the bookworm I wanted to see. Now, it has it’s downsides because now your bathroom time takes three times as long. And with one bathroom in the house this has to stop! But I still love it.
I don’t have to worry about you as much anymore. As you get older and your dad and I continue to fight for that smart, goodness inside of you, I can see you becoming more secure in who you are. Piece by piece. Life will remain what it is. Full of ups and downs and in betweens. Having two families will continue to be difficult and awkward but I promise to continue striving for that continuity I long for in your life.
All this to say, I love you. We love you – that is, your dad, your sisters and the Little Bean who has yet to be named. You have a heart that wants to give and help others. You have a spirit that is wild and big. You are also thoughtful, and this thoughtfulness will take you to some wonderful places.
I’m so proud to be your mom.