Before my children were born, I decided to write letters to them that they could open on their birthdays. Since I figured they would not be able to read when they were born, I addressed the letters with instructions to be opened starting on their 13th birthday. I wrote a letter when I was pregnant, a letter on the day the baby was born, and I write a letter every year on their birthday. Today is my son's first birthday, so he gets to open this letter when he turns 15...
My darling boy,
Today you turned one. I know you are reading this on the day you turn 15, but at this very moment you are asleep in your crib, sleeping soundly, after a very busy day of pictures, your first Happy Meal, cake, and toys.
To say that this has not been an easy year would be an understatement. You were a hard baby. Harder than I was expecting. You didn't sleep through the night until... well, we are still waiting for that. You want to eat all the time. And for the first 5 weeks of your life, if you were awake, you were screaming.
And that is what I need to tell you... as I reflect on this past year, I need to tell you that I love you. I love you so much... no matter how difficult you are.
This past year has been such an unexpected blessing. If you are like your father, you are capable of doing math, and you are probably aware that you weren't exactly planned. You were a surprise - a welcome one. God decided that I needed you, and He gave you to me, even though I didn't think I needed another baby for another year. I was wrong. I needed you, at exactly the time I had you. Know that, and take that with you throughout your life: You were exactly what I needed.
As I have watched your personality emerge over this past year, I can't help but marvel at you. You are so happy! You always have a smile on your face when you see me and you bounce up and down in my arms when I pick you up. I hope that you will always be happy to see me (even though I am sure I will embarrass the hell out of you when you are 15. Tough. That is what parents do). You adore your sister, and follow her around, even when she doesn't want you to. You are determined to make your place known. You clap when you see people you know and babble uncontrollably, as if to say "Hey! I'm here too!"
As you navigate the waters of your adolescence and high school, I just hope that if you have the choice to be happy or angry, you choose happy. I hope that you are kind to your sister (but I'm not holding my breathe), and good. Not perfect, I expect and hope that you get into some trouble (nothing too serious, please), but genuinely good - that you make choices now that you can live with for the rest of your life. And remember that men who are strong are not just physically strong - they are mentally and emotionally strong as well. Emotional and mental strength are difficult - they require knowing who you are and what you stand for - and I think that is harder than physical strength. Hope for courage, and always strive for honor.
I know that right now, at the moment you are reading this (not the moment I am writing this), life is hard for you. The teenage years are hard. Actually, they suck. And no matter how much you think you can't, I want you to know that you can come talk to me. About anything. I love you, no matter what you do or say.
I will always love you,