I missed your birthday once, because of a very noble and solemn situation and also stupid Donald Sutherland, and I swore that I would never again not be there to say goodbye to the child I was tucking into bed for the last time, nor miss greeting hello with a small birthday cake and a kiss the new child I was meeting the next morning, another day older and wiseasser.
You seem to have forgetten this, mostly I believe because at 11 you don't realize you're supposed to be keeping a running tally of all your parents' failures for your future blackmail and/or therapy. I doubt I will be so lucky in life twice, however.
I left for Montreal yesterday, earlier in the morning than the sun even begins to wake, and so I will never know how you spent even a moment of your last day as a 13 year old. I hope you had fun. I hope you cruised around on the skateboard I bought you (with a little help from my friends, who love you as much as I do, and I just want you to know that they do) and felt like the king of the world. As far as I am concerned, you are.
I hope you enjoyed the movie your grandmother took you to see today, I hope you enjoyed talking to your father this afternoon while we sat on a French Canadian porch and tried to sort out what happens next with us. I hope you enjoyed getting your first anime books at the bookstore today, and I hope you enjoyed your first ambulance ride this evening.
I suppose old women falling off of curbs and breaking their feet isn't the worst thing that can happen to a kid on his 14th birthday, especially if that means he gets to ride in an ambulance to the hospital with said old woman, spazzing out six year old sister, and totally-unable-to-process-current-events 12 year old brother.
I also, with all the sincerity in my heart, would like to thank your grandmother for going to such great lengths to make sure that you'll never, ever forget your 14th birthday. You know, the one I wasn't there for. Well played, Grandma. WELL PLAYED.
I hope you know that I have laid in my hotel room bed each night and taken inventory of every minute of you. I hope you know that you are the single greatest catalyst on earth, and that everything I became when you did is because of you.
I want you to know, even though you will think that it is oh my gawd sooo naaaasty mawm that when you fall asleep on the couch because you are so quickly becoming a man that your body simply cannot keep up, that in those moments I kiss your temple and smooth your hair and whisper in my ear that you will always be little to me, and always be loved by me, and always be every good thing in the world as far as I am concerned. I whisper that you hold a place in my heart that no one else ever could, that I don't care how quickly you are trying to outgrow my heart - it will just keep getting bigger to accommodate you. I do this because you would probably punch me a little if I said it to you awake.
Moms always get their way eventually. We know where you sleep.
You are one half of one inch away from being as tall as I am and most likely already wiser than I will ever be. You are funny at all the right times, and funnier at all the wrong ones. You have discovered the person that you would like to be, and it has been the greatest privilege of my life being able to feed and nurture and support this discovery. Every moment I know you, I stand in total and complete awe, whether it be of your aspirations or your compassion or your intelligence or that smell inside of your hats.
When I laid in a hospital bed 14 years ago, swollen and beaten and tired and terrified, I thought I had given birth to my son. What I didn't know is that I had actually given birth to pure, unadulterated wonder, and that I would get to spend the rest of my life watching it radiate outward.
I marvel in you. And I always will, even when I'm not right there.