Today I said I love you by letting you sleep in. We have things to do around the house, but I know you’ve been exhausted this week. It may be a slightly selfish I love you because this means I could sleep in as well.
Yesterday I said I love you by picking up your favourite fast food burger on my way home from work. You were home by yourself all day and I was sure you kept opening the fridge and the cupboards, but still managed to find nothing to eat. (There is fruit on the table… always!!!) When I show my love this way, I can only hope that you’ll still eat dinner (and you did.)
The other day I said I love you by sending a text reminding you how awesome you are before you headed into your first ever exam. I probably even used the words “I love you” in this one, but I never got a reply. I can only hope that you really, truly know your value and that beyond a shadow of doubt know you are loved, despite your grades (which I’m sure you rocked!)
Last week I said I love you when I folded your laundry. The three baskets of it that you let pile up just waiting for someone to fold. It’s one of those things you’re supposed to be responsible for now, but I didn’t mind taking the time to do this for you while you were at school.
Every day I say I love you. In the meals I cook – yes, even the ones you complain about. In the reminders to try your best. In the lectures about contributing to the society of our home. In the responsibilities given. In the trust exercised. In the chauffeuring. In the questions about your life that drive you crazy. In the call to wake you up each morning and the call again 10 minutes later because you haven’t made a sound yet. In the words “I Love You” when you’re frustrated with me or just passing you in the hall.
You don’t always hear “I love you”, but child, my I love yous are being shouted loud and clear or soft and quiet every single day and I’ll be sharing them until I’m no longer here to tell you. Never, ever doubt you are loved and know that I hear your I love yous too, even when they’re not spoken.
By all outward appearances, today was the same as any other day. My boys bickered over breakfast. I had to remind them to feed the dog three times. I’m pretty sure they both forgot to put deodorant on this morning and I’m not entirely sure they brushed their teeth. Some punches were thrown in the backseat of the car. We tripped over things lying around in the house. There are dishes in the sink.
But today was a special day as well. Our youngest is twelve years old. For those who are familiar with our J, he is one of a kind special. He’s quite adept at pushing buttons and to be honest, he can be a little bit annoying. He’s also remarkably curious. He’s creative. His imagination will keep him entertained for hours. He loves to talk (he gets that from his dad, of course.) He struggles with school at times (but I think it’s boredom and how easily he’s distracted) but he gets pretty good grades. He doesn’t have many close friends, but he’s friendly with everyone. He doesn’t walk – anywhere – he dances, he skips, he wiggles. He can be impulsive, he can be mischievous, he can be sweet as sugar. He’s a cuddler and a thinker and just a wee bit weird.
As he ages, I want him to be all of those things. I want him to have a plan for life, but be comfortable marching to the beat of his own drum. I want him to be respectful of others, but never compromise who he is at heart. I want him to indulge his curiosity and share his learning with absolutely everyone and everyone. Taking inspiration from the words of Thor’s mom in the latest Avenger’s movie, “Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be… a measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are.” – along these lines, I want him to have the confidence to be the very best version of himself without ever bearing the weight of other’s expectations. I pray he is successful and follows his path and that he remains true to himself and God’s plan along the way.
I look back over the last 12 years and remember the chubby cheeked babe who spent a week in the NICU. I remember the baby in the backyard who couldn’t stand the grass. The toddler who loved the mud and always had a grin on his face. The toothless wonder cheeky in school pictures. The young student who got in trouble for having a collection of erasers in his desk – and using them to enact battles during class time. The boy who loves art shows and takes so. much. time. selecting. art. cards for his room. The one who participates in craft shows and volunteers to set up our church kids’ camp every summer. The boy who wanted to buy a book about birds and spent hours lying on the trampoline bird watching. The one who gets emotional in books but claims to hate reading. I miss the chubby cheeks and endless rolls – the innocence of the whys and hows of the toddler years – but I also love and cherish every moment that is shaping his future as a man. I hope he nevers forgets how amazing we think he is and that in another twelve years he can look back on his time in our home and know that he is loved beyond measure.