I can so vividly remember holding John in my arms for the first time that it seems as if it could have been mere minutes ago. In those early days it feels as if you’ll live a lifetime prior to that newborn becoming an adult. Well, in what seems like the blink of an eye, John is celebrating his eighteenth birthday today. Where did the years go? I am so proud of the man he has become, and for the supreme blessing of being his mom. I cry and smile in tandem today as, with utmost joy and honor, I deliver my adult son to the world. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that while he is an adult in the eyes of the law he will always, for the rest of my time here on Earth, be my little boy.
While John’s story is his to tell, every now and then I take the liberty of bragging about him. He’s driven, hard-working, kind, a leader, easy to befriend and has a pretty fantastic sense of humor. He is thriving in his senior year of high school. He has his hardest course load yet, is dual enrolled, and should still bring home a perfect report card again this semester! He works hard for it every single day. On the sports front, he’s ready for his final season of varsity lacrosse. He volunteer coached a youth team this fall, and remains active in church. He is vice president of the football Super Senior Club and has spent the fall tailgating, painting his chest and leading the “best student section in the state” game after game all the way to the final four next week. He has an absolutely incredible group of friends and they seem to make every day special – gathering for birthdays, holidays, Wing Wednesdays, and NFL football on Mondays and Sundays. He still works at Honey Baked Ham 3-4 days a week, and he still logs hours upon hours on video games.
He sounds like the model child, but remember I am his mother and this is his birthday. :-) Parenting a teenager is frustrating, inspiring, maddening, joyful, challenging, easy, rewarding and so on and so forth. It is surreal to reach the point in parenting a child where you vividly remember being that age.
As we look towards tomorrow and the years to come, I pray that John remains grounded in God’s love, and that he knows that his family loves him unconditionally. I pray that he always sees his self worth, and that he can walk upright in integrity and good conscience with his decisions and choices. I pray that he is courteous and chivalrous, because I know those things aren’t dead. I pray that he is warm, true, trustworthy and respectful in his relationships, and that those in his circle are the same. I pray that he is hard working, yet generous with his time and resources, and that he enters his workplace and school each day with a good attitude, humbleness and appreciation for the opportunity to be there. I pray that he can be uninhibited in his happiness, know true joy, and that he always sees the glass as half full. I pray that he understands he isn’t invincible and that he knows just how precious his life truly is. And, I pray that he knows we are fighting for him, not against him, with every breath in every moment of every single day. I pray for John’s future wife and that he will enrich her life, treasure her, respect her, protect her, provide for her and trust her.
I’ve said many, many times that John saved me from myself when I lost his brother Matthew. I hope he knows that Whit is the greatest gift I’ve ever been able to give him. I know from my own Sister that a sibling’s love can stand the test of time, challenge, heartbreak, loss, sickness, confusion and despair. Sure, they fight and sometimes they just plain ignore each other. But every now and again, I find them together, as thick of thieves, and it is in those moments that I fall to my knees in thankfulness.
John is primarily excited about buying a lottery ticket and voting. We’ve laid some ground rules about his new adulthood – with the basis of that being as long as he is on our payroll he is still a child. We look ahead to this new chapter with a joyful and expectant heart. The year ahead is bound to be one of change – one of growing up, spreading wings and eventually packing his things and moving to college. I already feel as if my heart could shatter just thinking about it, but at the same time it feels like it has grown two sizes with love and pride. I cannot wait to see our boy make his mark on the world.
John spent the night in Auburn with his two besties and arrived home around lunch. He had school work to do so we tabled our celebrations to the evening. His top request was Mimi’s twice baked potatoes. Honey grilled steak and roasted asparagus to go along with it.
Mother and I made the balloon garland and 18 balloon stand. I pulled out all of the things we’ve set the table with for each of his 18 birthdays – the plate, Elf on the Shelf birthday set and Hidden Cupcake.
I made one of his favorite chocolate cakes. It always turns out perfectly and is SO delicious! Jay joined us for dinner, and the rest of Sister’s family came over late after Nutcracker for cake.
Since he was born, we’ve been giving him a “forever gift” on his birthday. I commissioned one of our favorite local artists and a guy that’s become a friend to make this Raider mascot painting to remember his time at WHS. He LOVED it! (This year, the forever gift also came with money to do something nice with.)
Godspeed, son. You are loved beyond measure.
DIXIE DELIGHTS DELIVERED