Mar 24, 2014 0 Share

Birthday Message to My Son

The author and her son as a small boy.
Photo by Coenraad van der Poel

Happy Birthday, Cameron! Nineteen years old. Where has the time gone? In a few short months you will have earned your high school diploma and will be preparing for a new phase in life. I hope you understand what a monumental accomplishment this is. I distinctly remember considering moving you to a new school for your high school years, and eliminating any school that only offered a diploma as its only exit point. I really didn’t think you’d be able to earn a high school diploma. But you’ve proven me wrong. Not only that, I’ve seen very little other than A’s on your report card for quite some time now. I’m sorry I ever doubted your capabilities and your hard work ethic.

Speaking of work ethic, I am so proud of how you have taken to the working world. You have proven yourself to be a reliable and enthusiastic employee. When you first shared your dream of owning a pizza restaurant all those years ago, I thought for sure that dream would fade after spending hours washing dishes in a commercial kitchen. And again, you proved me wrong. You love working, and would never dream of shirking your responsibilities. Even when your foot was broken in your bike accident, you were raring to get back to work. I don’t doubt that one day you will reach your dream of owning your own restaurant. You’re willing to learn and willing to work. That can’t be said of everyone, but it definitely can be said of you.

As we look at the next opportunity for you, ideally in a postsecondary placement, I know that your independence will serve you well. Your pride is evident when it comes to your ability to handle yourself without me hanging over your shoulder. Moving away from home will be a big learning experience. And I won’t be surprised if I am the one that ends up doing most of the learning. It’s so hard for me not to speak for you and not do for you. You and I have always had this unspoken language between us, and I’ve always felt like part of my job as your mother is to understand you better than anyone else. It’s nearly impossible for me to sit by and do nothing when language fails you in a given situation. I want to speak for you and explain your feelings. But that’s not my job anymore. At least, it’s not my full-time job anymore. You do just fine when I keep my own mouth shut, but I’m afraid I’m still learning the art of silence. But know that if you ever do need me to speak up for you, I will do so in a skinny minute.

I have many fond memories of your childhood, but one of my fondest was when you were just 4 years old. It was a particularly dark time for me as a single mom discovering that you were going to have some significant challenges in school. We were doing chalk drawings on the driveway, and you said, “Draw Mommy.” After I obliged, you said, “Draw Mommy sad.” As I added teardrops to the stick figure’s face, you bent down and patted those tear drops on the driveway, and said, “Oh … Poor Mommy.”

I’m afraid we may well need to “Draw Mommy sad” again on the day you leave for your next adventure. But the sadness is purely selfish, for I will be missing you terribly, but the pride I have in you will soon dry the tears. You’re a fine young man, Cameron. Any part I had in who you are is the greatest compliment I could ask for. Happy Birthday!