You never cease to amaze me and put a smile on my face. Today is no exception. 17 years ago today you came storming into my life and turned my structured, orderly world upside down with your demanding, sometimes overwhelming, but always loving presence. The smile on my face grows broader as I think about how much joy you have given me.
From the minute you came screaming, and I do mean screaming, into this world you have only wanted to give.
The minute you popped into my life, you began to give me stress, making me always wonder if I am doing the right thing as a mom. They were just little stresses in the beginning...things like, are you getting enough to eat? Are you getting enough sleep? Is my schedule too structured or not structured enough? And now they have morphed into bigger stresses...like did I do an OK job of teaching you right from wrong and when teenage temptation hits will you be able to walk away? Or have I forgotten to teach you an important lesson and are you well equipped to handle the big wide world? I think you are well equipped for the big wide world, but I have to tell you the selfish part of me doesn't want you to go there. The selfish part of me wants you to stay here with me ~ stress be damned! But I know that's not possible and you will go off into the big wide world. I also know there are times when I've not done a good job controlling my stress level when it comes to raising you, but I want you to know I've always tried hard to be the best mom I could be during these 17 years.
From time you learned how to smile and laugh, you have given me joy. Your baby giggles were precious and your man-child smile is infectious. I remember the first time you giggled and giggled and giggled. You were seven months old. Dad was in Bosnia. It was just you and me, the two of us together. It was bath time. Both you and I loved bath time. I loved it because you loved it. You loved it because of the toys floating in your little inflatable bathtub. You had squirtie whales and fish. You had Little People sailors and boats, complete with big life preservers. Your fat little hands kept reaching for the yellow life preserver floating around in the water. I picked it up and said "life preserver" and you giggled a big ol' belly giggle. I said it again and your giggle got bigger. I said the words again and again and each time your giggles got louder. I didn't want to stop saying the words because I didn't want you to stop giggling. I reveled in your giggles then and now I relish hearing your man-child laugh.
But most of all, Zach, the thing you have given the most of is love. From the time you understood the concept of love, you've given your love freely, easily and unconditionally. You give your love to anyone who asks for it, and it's been a joy to watch you grow and give so much. The first time I saw your unconditional love was when you were in second grade. You came home from school telling me you got to go to the treasure box because you did something fabulous at school. I can't, for the life of me, remember what the fabulous thing was that you did at school, because as you told me about what you did, you pulled out the "treasure" you picked out of the treasure box...a pair of earrings for me. You didn't get to go to the treasure box often, so when you got a rare opportunity to go you chose something for me. I still have those earrings in my jewelry box. They are just cheap, little gold-plated earrings but they are one of my biggest treasures because you chose something for me when you could have easily chosen a treat for yourself. It's been a joy to watch how you give love to others as well. Watching you this past Valentine's Day was a true treat. You fretted so much about which flowers to buy for your sweetheart. You called and texted to me to make sure what you were picking out would be perfect for her. It was so sweet to see how much you wanted to give her something to please her. I hope you never stop giving your love freely, easily and unconditionally. I have been blessed so many times over by the love you give me.
I can't believe you're 17 years old today, Zach. Time has flown by, just like all of the older parents told me it would when you were a newborn. "Enjoy these days," they said, "time flies by so fast and he'll be grown before you know it." The days when you were a newborn, toddler and preschooler sometimes seemed to crawl by and I thought they'd never end. The saying "the days were long but the years were short" has proven itself to be so very true. I blinked and 17 years slipped from the present to the past. 17 years has gone so quickly. While I can't believe how quickly time has gone, I look at you now and my pride in you knows no bounds. You are one stellar young man.
I wish you a very Happy Birthday, Zach. I love you ~ now and always.