My Sweet Small Dude,
Seven Years ago today, I saw your face for the very first time and I fell madly in love. I pushed one time, burst out laughing and you popped your way in to the world. Your entrance is apropos of your sunny personality. You’ve never met a stranger, spend time ‘saving worms’, are the first to run for an ice pack when someone is hurt and cry right along with me at sappy movies and at ‘One Shining Moment’ at the end of the NCAA tournament.
You definitely get your arm and gift for athletics from your daddy, but your heart? Your heart and sensitivity come directly from me. That time we spent connected, when you were warm, safe and growing your fingers and toes, your big blue eyes, and that sweet heart inside me – well, I was passing a little softness your way. I want you to know I think that heart makes you special. I think it makes you stronger. You’ll never leave anyone behind. You’ll never forget an important day. You’ll probably cry if you don’t make the team, if you don’t get in to the college you want, when a girl breaks your heart and when you graduate from high school. But the good news is – I’ll be crying right along with you, so we’ll be there to lean on each other.
I’ve been watching you closely lately. This 7th year of your life has been a beautiful one, but one that has allowed me to glimpse the beginning of a journey. You have always been my small dude, my sweet baby boy, my handsome. And while you aren’t hitting your teen years, I can see a little bit of the young man you will be. Especially now that those seven teeth you lost in three weeks have come in.
You are smart. Wicked smart. Don’t ever forget that smart is cool. And if something doesn’t come easy to you – and there will be things that don’t – studying is cool too. So is trying again. And again. Effort matters. You did well in first grade, Buddy, and I’m so very proud of you, but starting next year, homework is going to take longer than 10 minutes. Just a friendly warning from your loving Mommy.
If I was given a list of qualities I might gift to you, at the top would be kindness. Kindness wins. Leading with your heart as you often do is an amazing start. The people (and creatures) around you deserve the gift of kindness that you choose to give. Whether you are saving baby birds or worms, comforting a friend, picking something up for someone, holding a door open or offering a kind word, it all matters.
Since you were itty-bitty, your Daddy and I have told you that your number one job is to protect your sister. That isn’t going to change in these next few years, but it will likely be harder to do. I can already see that you are both mastering the art of pushing each other’s buttons. When you are frustrated with your sister, you might not want to defend her or comfort her, but I’m going to ask you to try anyway. The two of you have a special connection – I want you to work hard to keep it. You’ll be happy you did later in life.
Even at six, you knew right from wrong. That sensibility, I imagine will only become more enhanced as you get older. That feeling you get in your tummy, in your head and in your heart that tells you, ‘this is right and THIS is wrong’…. follow it, trust it, embrace it. I know it won’t always be easy. Standing up for someone when you see they need it, being the one of your friends that chooses a different path – I’m asking a lot of you, but I know you can do it. Trust yourself.
Right now, at seven, you come to me with everything. You are completely transparent. If you get in trouble at school, if you make a bad decision, if you are mean to your sister, you confide in me. I realize as you get older, turning to me and your Dad may not always seems as easy, but know this, we will always be here for you, no matter what. We WANT you to come to us – with questions, with worries, with concerns. We are here to protect and guide you – forever.
My goal has always been to be the best Mommy, the best teacher, you could have. But you, Cooper, are mine. I learn more from you and your sister every day than I could possibly have imagined. You allow me to see the world from a different height, through open, honest eyes. You love purely, you give unconditionally and play hard with all of your heart. If only each and every adult I knew subscribed to your life philosophies, this world would be ready for you when you grow up.
Did I mention I don’t want you to grow up? That I don’t want you to ever stop snuggling with me at night or early in the morning? That I don’t ever want you to stop saying, “I love you, My Mommy” in the middle of the day? That I hope you won’t ever be embarrassed to run and jump in my arms in celebration after winning a game?
Of all the little boys in the world, Cooper, you have my heart. Happy 7th birthday, my sweet small dude…. I love you very, very much.