Happy almost 18th birthday! It is almost impossible to believe that you, the man I see before me every day is about to turn 18. We are a mere few days from the event. The blonde hair that I was told would darken has ceased to do so, and the bluest of blue eyes also failed to change.
As a child, you told me that you didn’t like your hair because it shines when you are outside. I smoothed the naughty one in the back and hugged you as tightly as I could. Obviously you didn’t see what I could see. Always hard on yourself, somehow everything including your best was never enough. Your expectations for yourself will serve you well; just don’t forget that you are only human. Stop beating yourself up for what you can’t control.
As you start to dismantle your room, and pack up to leave home to attend school, I look away. I refuse to look at the boxes and the “to do” list. I am very appreciative that your father has stepped up to handle so much of what I am not sure I would be able to do. I cannot imagine what life will be like when I will be unable to see your face every day. It’s all happening too quickly; I am sure I was buying diapers only a couple of years ago.
Now you are surrogate father to your sister, ear to listen and shoulder to lean on for me. Pride does not begin to describe how I feel about how you stepped up when your father didn’t or when I couldn’t. You have been my extra hands. You have been the light in my life, always shining, always loving everyone but yourself.
It is your time now. It is your time to take your bags and your boxes, your computers and your boy messes and be whoever you want to be. You have no obligations to continue being the amazing help you have been. Your only obligation is now to yourself to be the best you that you can possibly be. We love you; always remember to come home once in a while. It’s time for you to figure out who you want to be; it’s time for you to apply all those lessons we learned together about how to be a parent and a brother and a father.
As the middle child, you were often in shadow, not the oldest and not the youngest… not the girl… not the first. Some say it is inevitable as the middle child that you would suffer the lack of time and patience given in abundance to the eldest, and out of need for the baby. Not you though… somehow, you are and always have been a distinctly special YOU.
My hope for you is that you learn to voice your needs and your opinions; please develop the self confidence and clarity of vision to see what the world sees when they see you. The wheels that always seem to be turning; you are a thinker. You are a truly amazing child… man… individual. My son. I can’t wait to see what you do with your life.
Never come home out of obligation;I will be fine. I promise you. Come home to make us laugh… Come home because you need a hug and a good meal. Come home because this will always be your home.
Use your beautiful gifts to enjoy this time. I will try not to cry as you drive away with your father, knowing it will be several months at least until I see you again. I am putting this in your birthday gift, so you can find it when you open the box. A leather messenger bag that you will use every day to carry the brilliant stories you will write, and things you will discover. Every day when you carry that bag, let it be a reminder to give me a call when you have some time.
I love you,