Ok Sweet Buddy…. Eight is Enough.
Anytime you want to stop growing and remain just as sweet, innocent and full of joy as you are right now, I’m game.
I’ve now known you for 2,922 days and I love you more each morning and each evening as I put you to sleep. I don’t have a perfect memory, but I remember vividly the moment you entered my world. The nurses told me you had a full head of blond hair – even before you were born. To this day, that beautiful blond hair, your smile and your heart make me fall a little more in love with you each hour. My labor with you was virtually non-existent. Dr. Cartwright made me laugh and you joined us immediately.
You are kind.
You are so very smart.
You work hard and play hard.
I’ve noticed you growing up a little bit more lately…. just yesterday you dropped my hand when you saw a team of girls walking by….unwilling to be the ‘little boy’ holding his mom’s hand in front of girls. I knew it would happen eventually, but I felt it in my heart. And though you told me last night you will always be my ‘baby’, I can see the baby slipping away by the day, being replaced by a boy with a heart and mind of his own. I am raising you for these moments, but I confess to knowing I will miss the ‘little’ you.
This year you finished second grade, played more baseball, soccer and football games than I can count, celebrated your First Communion, made me laugh until I cried, held my hand and my heart, continued to snuggle in to my bed each morning, learned the importance of loving your sister, enjoyed the company of wonderful friends and reminded me that life is for living and loving.
There is no substitute for family. We’ve always stressed that our number one job is to take care of you and YOUR number one job is to love and protect your sister. The love you have for each other was reflected in the card she chose for you today: “For my brother: On your birthday, I’m thinking about the good talks we’ve had, the fun things we laugh about…the happy times we’ve spent together. On your birthday, I’m thinking about how good it is that you’re my brother…how great it is that you’re my friend.” (She picked it out herself!) Your dad and I will always be here for you, will always support your dreams and will always be here to pick you up when you need us…. and your sissy will as well.
Work Hard, Play Hard – You do this beautifully now, but it won’t always be easy. As you get older, the temptation to play more than you work will be strong, but learning, expanding your mind and focusing on school, and improving both in school and on the field are important. The harder you work, the better you will be.
Losing is growing – I wish I could tell you that you will never fail, that a trophy will always be within your reach, but not only is that not true, I don’t want it to be. Every time you lose a baseball game, every time you miss that A+ you want, every time you fail to throw the ball over the plate, you have the chance to grow, to learn from your mistakes and IMPROVE. Learning this now means you will be better equipped for the moments in life that aren’t perfect.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T – Give it, earn it: it’s more than a word – Respect adults – teachers, coaches, other parents: they are here to teach you, guide you and help you to grow in to a strong adult. Respect your friends – their friendship is valuable…don’t take it for granted. Respect girls – you are quite a distance from dating (maybe 20 years or so :), but it is important to remember that girls deserve your friendship and respect just as the others in your life do. A strong man will always respect the women he knows and meets. Respect yourself: you are smart and valuable and more than capable of doing anything you want in life.
Nurture kindness – You are a sensitive soul. You love deeply, you feel deeply, you hurt deeply. Assume that others do as well and treat them kindly. Share what you have, compliment- don’t criticize and offer to help whenever you can.
Take responsibility for your actions – If you do something wrong (and inevitably you will, as we all do), own your mistake. If you need to apologize for hurting someone, do it. Learn from your missteps, stand tall and do better next time.
Humble is beautiful – I don’t care how many home runs you hit, strikes you throw, A’s you earn in the classroom – no one likes a braggart. Aim to be the very best version of you, but let your actions talk for you. Confidence is wonderful, but cockiness is unattractive.
Worry about yourself – Remember that video I showed you of the little girl buckling herself in to her car seat? Think of her any time you are tempted to worry about someone else’s successes or failures. You job is to compare yourself to the ‘you’ of yesterday, not to worry about anyone else’s grades, athletic ability, relationships or home life. Cooper needs to worry about Cooper.
Make the world better each day – You make my world better simply by being wonderful, beautiful you. But, I challenge you to commit to small acts of good – open doors for strangers, smile at everyone, offer to help someone who needs it, surprise someone you love with a moment of good. You never know what someone else might be facing and your small act of kindness could make the difference between a good day and a tough one.
And one to grow on….
I have faith in you – Always come back to this one. I will always be one step behind you, supporting your decisions and trusting in your goals and dreams. I have faith, Cooper, that you can be anyone or anything you choose.
It is my honor to be your mom and to help shape you from this sweet boy in to the young man you are becoming.
I love you, my Buddy.