Well, Little Bitty Buddy, you’ve made it. You will never be a single-digit age again.
You have passed go and you will keep right on going.
You are officially so big.
For a mom, ten is a pretty special number. The moment you were born, I counted ten precious fingers and ten sweet toes. To be fair, I was quite confident I’d carried you around in my belly for ten full months, but your daddy and my favorite doctor assure me it was only nine.
Yesterday morning, you sweetly reminded me that it was your very last day in single digits. You are both my growing boy and my baby. And you, you little devil, know it. You have always known it.
You are my every day and my something special.
As I do each year, I marvel at what a gift it is to be your mother, to bear witness to your strengths and weaknesses, to have been given the keys to teach you- as best I can – to grow, evolve, and learn on your journey.
I know I am not supposed to protect you from life (wow, this is a struggle for me!), saving you from all that is difficult and challenging, but rather, prep you to walk your own path and truly live in each moment: the good and bad.
When you were little, my job felt so much easier. Never mind the lack of sleep, the potty-training, and the terrible-two’s….your little hand in mine, the snuggling – simply being your mommy was the answer to all of your life’s problems.
You are growing in to an actual person. You have your own personality. And opinions. And questions about life. I love this stage, despite knowing that snuggling will no longer be the band-aid you need.
You are bright and beautiful. Smart and compassionate. You are open and empathetic. A good friend and loyal teammate. You are kind-hearted, fun-loving, and goofy, if not a touch dramatic.
Your math skills and talent for baseball match that of your very best coach’s – your daddy. I couldn’t be more proud that you have in him, an impeccable example of fairness and leadership, of hard work and true fun. Continue to follow his lead and your path will be well paved.
You are finding your passions – the sports that you love to play every day of the week, the books that make you think (and those that don’t hold your interest at all), the acting skills you’d like to develop, the teachers who push you to do your best, the friends who make you laugh.
Little Bitty Buddy, it is both glorious and painful for me to say – but you are growing up right in front of my eyes and you are one of my very best teachers.
You make me better.
You are my every day and my something special.
My wishes for you as you head in to this next year…..
Enjoy today: As a kid, I remember always being excited about tomorrow – the next time I saw my friends, the next game, the next camp, the next vacation. I get it. Having something to look forward to is spectacular. But so is today. Today you are ten, spending part of the day with your family, having baseball practice and doing some celebrating with friends. Embrace it. Tomorrow you will be ten plus one day. Enjoy that, too. Each day is rich with laughter, lessons and gifts.
Stay in your own lane: This isn’t the first time you have heard me say this and it most certainly won’t be the last. Cooper Smith needs to worry about Cooper Smith, not about anyone else. This is not only a good practice when you are ten, but as you move forward in life. Are you a good son, brother, friend, teammate, and student? Good. Keep it that way.
Trust your team: You are surrounded by great teammates. Be loyal to them on and off the field. Trust they know their positions during the game and in life as your friends. You will win together and lose together. Knowing that you can celebrate together during amazing clutch moments and support each other through tough losses will be part of the glue that binds strong friendships and builds character.
Honesty is a good policy: This is an easy one, Buddy. If your friends, family and teachers can’t trust you, it will hurt relationships, both personally and professionally.
Put in the hard work: As you and your sister have continued to develop your athletic skills, I’ve seen a specific quote pop up over and over again, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” The older you get, the more kids hone in on the activities where they are most talented. This means your hard work will be imperative. I love your heart. I love your willingness to put in the work for the activities you love. Keep doing it. It will continue to pay off.
There is no substitute for play: And when you are done with the hard work, Play Hard. Get outside, laugh, run, jump and be a kid. I’ve admitted you are growing, but you will never be too old to just play.
Stay curious: One of the things I have adored most about being your mom has been watching your mind develop and your curiosity grow. Please stay curious. Know that there will always be more to learn and people to teach you. Ask. Wonder. Grow.
The Golden Rule is Golden for a Reason: If I raise you to know that kindness should always be a driving force in your life, I will always believe I have done something right. The world can always use more kind souls. You have a kind heart and you have since you were tiny. Continue to nurture it and don’t allow anyone to tell you that you are too sensitive. Your willingness to comfort a friend, worry about a stranger, and care for your sister, daddy and I are all admirable qualities.
Embrace empathy: It isn’t always easy to reserve judgement while trying to understand someone else’s perspective, but I urge you to continue to try. You have, up until now, always noticed and identified with my softer side and my desire to ‘take a walk in someone else’s shoes’. Well, look at that – a trait you get from me 🙂 I hope this is a quality you continue to embrace as seeing the world through another eye’s can broaden your life view and make your heart bigger.
Continue to do YOU: Just as I am in awe of the little every day moments that make you, YOU….I recognize everything that makes you stand out as special in my eyes. Continue to sparkle and shine. Continue to love baseball and basketball and play hockey inside my house (there: you have it in writing!). Continue to ask me to dance, make goofy faces, check on your friends when they are sad, hold your teacher’s place in her book and yes, sometimes overreact when you stub your toe (you get that from your Daddy, too) – but all of it, Coop, makes you the crazy, amazing blond, blue-eyed wonder that was born amidst laughter. And I wouldn’t change a thing.
Finally, one to grow on:
Your dad and I will always be here as your foundation. I couldn’t be more grateful that you have continued to talk and share with us as you do. My hope is that you will always know us to be your greatest fans, your proudest supporters, your loudest cheering section and the two people who will always help you to figure it out, pick you up and push you forward.
Sweet Buddy, I couldn’t be more proud of the boy you are. Thank you for being generous with your hugs and with your ‘I love you’s’.