I've been trying to write this letter to you since the early hours of this morning. I got up before the rest of you, like I do, and I sat here and listened to the snow plows outside the window, as it was too dark to watch it snow still, and I thought about what I could pen to you on such an important birthday. I went back and read some of my old letters to you, and had a good laugh over that awesomely horrible Portal cake, and an equally good cry over this letter from a few years back. I laughed when I read this one, because I still remember this birthday, and then I read the first letter I ever wrote to you on my blog. It touches my mother's heart that you come here every year looking for your birthday letter. It's not quite as good as a hug, or an "I love you mom", but I'll take it.
While I was in the kitchen tonight making the lasagna you requested for your birthday dinner, I was thinking about how we have sort of grown up together. I wasn't a parent before you came along and so I've had to do most of my learning, and failing, with you. When you were very little your first questions were "Why?" and "What's that?" You were such a curious little boy, always wanting to know about everything. So I would walk around, and you would point to everything and ask, "What's that?" and I would tell you. That was the easy question, and I never got tired of telling you about what things were, because you were so excited to find out the answers. "Why?" was always harder. You have always been a challenger, and I don't like being challenged. On top of that, you often ask the hard questions that I don't have the answers too. I hope that you don't think your old mum is stupid, I'm just not half as intelligent as you have been blessed to be. The greatest part of that has been watching you go find the answers. You never accepted not knowing as acceptable. You have always gone out and found the answers to your questions. I hope you take that with you as you continue your journey in life.
These past few years have been difficult for the both of us. It has broken my heart to watch you struggle through them, feeling so helpless, and wishing there was more that I could do for you. I knew that I had to let you navigate through it on your own, offering only my support, and prayers, and love, but as your mother I wanted nothing more than to just fix it and make it all better for you. Because I am your mother, I feel partly responsible for the whole mess. I know that I'm not, but mother's can't help but play that "If I had only done this, that or the other thing better" or "If I had spent more time doing this instead of that" or "Maybe if I had let him (fill in whatever)"... game. Because your were my first child, I will likely always feel like I have failed you in some way or another. In all truthfulness, I probably have. I hope you realize that it wasn't intentional and hope that you can forgive me.
Over the past year, however, especially the past 6 months, I have been silently cheering as I've watched you come back to us. It started a little bit last year, more so this year, and more so since the summer. It has been a long time coming, and even though I haven't outwardly made a big deal of it, I have wanted to shout from the rooftops, "MY BOY IS BACK!!" Really, it's quite lovely. Your dad and I have missed having *you* around, and even your sister's noticed. When she scolds you for giggling in the middle of the night, I tell her to get over it, at least you are giggling again. Besides, pretty soon you will be gone, and it will be too quiet and she'll wish you were there laughing about something ridiculous at 3am. OK, maybe she won't, but I will.
So here we are, at eighteen, and legally you are an adult. You can vote now, gamble, smoke, die for your country, drive without a seat belt, go to jail and move out and be responsible for yourself. That's a heap load of stuff to toss at someone just because of an age, if you ask me. I remember being 18, and I don't feel that I was quite ready for any of that. I look at you, and I'm not quite sure you are yet, either. Almost, but not quite. You have a ways to go yet, before "responsible" is a word that I will tag on to "young adult". There is that matter of an English paper that you haven't written yet. Or the fact that you can't get yourself up and to school on time. Or anywhere on time. Keep working on the rest though. Earn that title of responsible. In the meantime, know that your father and I love you very much. You make us proud to be your parents. Happy birthday.