Sweet 16

My Dearest Noah,

You slept in my bed last night. I woke up before you this morning and lay there staring at you, wondering if this would be the last time I got to do this. You slept with me all the time when you were little and I have always been thankful you still do it when Jason is out of town. I know the older you have gotten you do it just because it makes me happy and feel like I’m still your Mama, and I appreciate that.

You’re 16 today and when I think about that it makes me cry. I cry because you’re my only baby and I feel like it all went too fast. I feel like I didn’t pay enough attention, or write down enough of the funny things you said, or take enough pictures. Some days I want a do over because I want to go back and capture every last moment and to make sure that none of the moments were wasted.

But that’s never been the type of person I am. I haven’t documented my life well, so of course I didn’t yours. Jason and I didn’t even hire a photographer for our wedding. I’ve always been a more fly by the seat of your pants, experience the moment and let it pass kind of gal. I don’t know that I necessarily regret that, but in moments of panic such as your only child turning 16, you may begin to question your methods!

The other reason I cry is because you are so wonderful and lovely and more than I ever dreamed of. I was a kid when you were born. I didn’t even know what to hope, wish, or pray for you. My biggest goal was to keep you alive and healthy. I didn’t know to pray for you to become compassionate and yet you are the most compassionate person I have ever met. I didn’t know to hope for you to be kind, but you are so very kind and sweet to other people. You have a tender heart and a sixth sense for when people are hurting. You may not be able to do a lot to alleviate their pain, but you are a damn good friend and you sit with people while they hurt. You don’t run away and you’re not afraid of hard things. How did you turn out like this? I didn’t know to hope for all that so I don’t know that I parented in that direction. But you became that person anyway somehow and I am so proud that you did.

You said this morning at breakfast that you thought people shouldn’t have children until they have some wisdom to impart on their child. Well, good luck! None of us would ever have kids if we waited until we thought we were smart or wise enough to have something to offer. When you’re ready to make a baby with the love of your life you’ll be scared shitless because you’ll be certain you’re going to ruin that kid. But you’ll do it anyway because your love for your wife and the baby you haven’t met yet will outweigh your fears of failing. And when you love like that nothing will ever be a complete failure anyways.

I didn’t have any wisdom for you at 21 when you were born, but you and I have been through it together these 16 years, haven’t we? We have both grown in wisdom and maturity; thankfully we will continue to just grown and grow. But I do have some wisdom for you now, my sweet son. First of all, I want you to always remember to grant yourself the same grace you give to everyone else. You deserve love and kindness and friendship and empathy and compassion just as much as you give it. Every person is valuable, Noah, every last one. But that doesn’t mean you have to give your heart away or go the extra hundred miles for every one of them. The world is big enough that we can all find what’s called a “home team.” Those are the people you would give a kidney to no questions asked. Everybody can’t be on that team, sweetie. Try to not give too much of you away to the people that wouldn’t give you their kidney.

That last paragraph doesn’t refer to acts of service or generosity. You are such a generous person and you are constantly serving those who need and ask for help. I’m never going to suggest you become a callous person. I’m just saying guard your heart, baby. Not everyone is put on this earth to share the depths of you. When you find who is, you’ll know.

Work hard. Don’t give up on your dreams for what seems like a quick fix right now. You have amazing potential inside you, Noah. You are so smart and driven and motivated. Please don’t lose that or let it drift away. I did and I have spent my entire life regretting it. I always chose what was right in front of my face (or easy) and now I still have so many questions about what might have been. Don’t do that! Go out there and find out what you’re capable of and chase your dreams down. You will fail here and there and you will disappoint yourself at times, but it will all be so worth it and you will glad you didn’t give up. Work hard!

There is plenty more I want to tell you, but we have Senior year and college and a lifetime after that. I don’t want to put it all here and overwhelm your 16-year-old brain. Mostly I want to tell you how special you are to me. I’ve never missed opportunities to tell you I love you and I have tried so hard to make sure you know I think the world of you, but in case any of that wasn’t clear before I wanted to say it all today. Because you know, turning 16 seems like a big deal to me!

Noah, I didn’t plan to get pregnant with you and so I was pretty scared. And some days I thought I had really screwed up my life by having a baby. But I can honestly tell you that you are the best thing that ever, ever happened to me. You are the gift I never knew to ask for or plan. You made my life make sense and you made me into the person I am today. I wanted to be better because I wanted to be good enough for you. Yeah, I know I’m still a mess in some ways. None of us will ever fully get there. But I’m better at being a human being because you came along.

I’m over the moon that God saw fit to let me be your mom. It is the best and most important thing I will ever do in this lifetime. Thank you for being who you are. I couldn’t be more proud. I couldn’t like you more. And I sure as hell couldn’t love you any more than I do. With my whole heart. I’m really excited to see where your life takes you and all the adventures you and I have left together. When I worry that I missed too much of your growing up I just remember all the life and laughter and memories you and I have yet to make.

I carry you in my heart, my little Noah. Always.

Love, Mama