How is it even possible that I am sat here, writing this letter to you on your thirteenth birthday, when it feels like no time at all has passed since you came into the world, stole my heart, and made me a Mummy. Without sounding like a broken record, where has that time gone? How did my baby boy grow into such a handsome young man, all in the blink of an eye? And yet here you are, thirteen, a teenager, and without a doubt the best thing to ever happen to me.
Lately I have found myself looking at you and doing a double take when I realise that you are no longer a little boy. I reach out to hold your hand and feel stunned to discover that mine no longer envelops yours, or I catch sight of your growing feet and wonder where those tiny baby feet went, those scrumptious little toes that I had counted in complete and utter awe. I see you from a distance and swallow a lump in my throat at, not only how big you have grown but, how utterly handsome you have become. And I ask myself, time and time again, what did I ever do to deserve you?
I often wonder why you are so special to me, just as your siblings are in their own individual ways. I wonder whether it’s because you are the eldest, the first little one to make me a Mummy, whether it’s because for such a long time, after your Dad and I divorced, it was just you and I, or whether it’s because you are the reason why I am here today and why I survived some of the hardest times of my life. And I think the truth is, it’s all of those reasons, and a million more besides, some of which I will never find the words to explain. Because we have been through so much together over the last thirteen years, far more than any child your age should have experienced, and yet in the words of someone far wiser than I,
“And in the middle of my chaos, there was you.”
I haven’t always been the best Mum to you but I have always been the best Mum that I can be at any given time, and I hope that was enough. From day one you made being your Mummy so easy and, even when I struggled in the years that followed, you dragged me out of bed each morning, made me see the world through your eyes and reminded me why there are so many reasons to carry on, to put one foot infront of the other, and to believe that one day, everything will be exactly as it should be. On far too many occasions you dried my tears, snuggled up beside me, held my hand and gave me the strength that I was lacking. Even now, you still do.
As a baby you were so easy, a toddler you were a dream, and with every year that passed, despite everyone telling me that a difficult stage would come, you continued to be the easiest child. You have always been so affectionate and loving, so intuitive and kind, and you had us in stitches every day without fail, laughing until our sides hurt. And despite the many mistakes that your Dad and I made together over the years, you were, and always will be, the one thing that we got right.
Last year when you turned twelve, everyone warned me, “Make the most of this year, when he reaches his teens you won’t know what’s hit you!” And when I told them that I didn’t believe that for one minute, that you had been so easy and so lovely your whole life, they had rolled their eyes, laughed, and told me, “We’ll see!”.
And so I waited, with baited breath, wondering at what point my lovely, kind hearted boy would start to develop an attitude problem, slamming doors and muttering under your breath, refusing to spend time with us and holing yourself away in your bedroom. And yet here we are, a fully fledged teenager, and I can genuinely say, hand on my heart, you are still every bit as lovely as you have ever been.
You’re not perfect, you and I both know that, and there are times when you drive me crazy, and probably vice versa! When I see the state of your bedroom just hours after I’ve tidied it or when we lock horns over your Maths homework on a Sunday night, when you refuse to back down in an argument or insist on having the last word, you certainly know how to press my buttons! And yet if that’s the worst we can expect from you, and all I really have to complain about, I consider myself very lucky!
At parents evening last month, your teacher described you as a “lovable rogue”, and that really made me laugh. Because it’s true, no doubt about it, as although you may be cheeky or talk back every now and then, you do it with such a twinkle in your eye and the most handsome smile on your face, that most of the time it’s impossible to be cross at you!
Academically you are doing so well and yet you still have no idea just how clever you are or how much you are capable of achieving. School work has always come naturally to you (you definitely got your Mums brains!) but your biggest love, and something you are exceptionally good at, is sport. There is no sport you cannot do, no game you cannot play, nothing too tough or too scary; you are brave, bold and entirely fearless.
Last week you returned from nine days skiing in Italy, having never skied a day in your life, and yet you mastered it, almost instantly, skiing down 3000 feet black runs that would have challenged even the most experienced of skiers. I saw such a huge change in you when you returned, just as I knew I would, a new found self belief, an inner confidence, independence, ambition and, most of all, the realisation that there is nothing in this world you cannot do.
As a teenager, you have so many lessons to learn over the next few years – learning about yourself, and who you are, the importance of true friendships and family, about love and heartbreak, and experiencing so many new and exciting adventures. I’m sure that you will make mistakes, I know I did, but I hope you know that I will always be here to pick you back up, dust you off, and send you back out into the world to make a thousand more. We all did it, we all do, and although I would love to sit here and tell you how to live your life, I think it’s important that, in some respects, you figure it out for yourself. And I have every belief that you will make us proud, in just the same way you always have.
You have been the centre of my whole world for thirteen long years, and even when Gaz came along, closely followed by your siblings, and you no longer had my undivided attention, you welcomed the family that you had always dreamed of. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the four of you together, the bonds you have made and the moments that you share, and you are every bit the big brother I knew you would be, and all five of your siblings are very lucky to have you.
I could sit here all day and sing your praises but I know that you find it super embarrassing, so I will simply say thank you. For being so wonderful, so sweet and kind hearted, for being the best big brother, the best son and for giving me the best thirteen years of my whole life, thank you.
Happy 13th Birthday Lewis,
Love you all the stars in the sky.