You turned thirteen today.
When you were in my belly, I used to tell your Daddy: "This one is gonna be mine." Your brother always had a special bond with your father and so I used to joke that I was going to keep you for myself. "He's gonna love me the most," I used to say.
Then you showed up...all drama and emergency and chaos.
You cried for nearly the whole first year. (Everyone who was around back then can agree that this is not an exaggeration on my part.)
Then, you gagged on every Cheerio and sip of milk and nibble of pancake and spent the next year puking unpredictably.
But man, were you cute.
You have always been able to wrap me around your little finger. When you were a toddler, you would follow me around the house, clutching at my shirt, my pants, whatever you could grab hold of, whining and crying up at me: "Up-a! Up-a! Up-a!" You would not stop until I picked you up and carried you around on my hip, as I filled the dishwasher, made dinner, helped your brother get ready for school. Your father insisted I had to stop, that I was spoiling you, that that's why my back hurt all of the time. You only did this when I was home. (I think I secretly loved this.)
You wore eye glasses since you were a year old. When the eye doctor told us you were ready to graduate from your blue plastic wrap around glasses to "big boy glasses," you knew exactly the ones you wanted: the Sponge Bob ones from Costco. We spent the afternoon driving back and forth from the doctor's office to the store and back to get them fitted and ready. The look of pride and joy on your face when you got to show those little glasses off was worth the price of gas and time in traffic.
You always loved animals, especially elephants. When you turned four, we took you to an elephant sanctuary where you climbed right up on top of Luke, the Asian elephant, for a photo op. No fear. No hesitation. I believe at one point you might have owned (and slept with) over 20 different stuffed elephants.
You had these little dimples on the backs of your hands. Around the time you were ready to go into kindergarten, I noticed they were starting to fill in. I became slightly obsessed with those little dimples. I knew once they were gone, it meant your precious little baby hands had turned into big boy hands. Now, your hands are nearly the biggest in the house and they look like grown man hands. When we are in the car together, sometimes I will reach over for your hand, and you never pull away. You sit there in the passenger seat, holding my hand, sometimes even sweetly rubbing your thumb over mine.
We call you the Gentle Giant. In the last year, your shoulders have broadened, your arms have developed muscles, and your jawline has widened. The other night, the four of us were rough housing on the couch. Your brother and Daddy were holding you down so I could tickle you. Even between the two of them, they had trouble. "He is pure brute strength," Ben whispered in shock. "Babe, I could barely hold him down," your father admitted. Yet, you would not hurt a fly and when you and your older brother really do get into it, you never fight back.
When your grandmother turned 80, you spent hours teaching yourself how to play "Happy Birthday" on the saxophone.
When your brother complained yesterday about wanting more sushi, you offered him yours.
When your dad and I got sentimental watching the finale of Schitt's Creek, you put an arm around each of us and leaned your head up against mine.
It is very hard to put into words what a special soul you are. Everyone who knows you, though, knows it. You win everyone over with your kindness, gentleness, silliness, and sweetness.
I can't believe you are a teenager. Although it makes me a little sad to know your "little boy days" are behind us, I am so excited to see you continue to grow and mature into the amazing man I know you are going to become. I am ridiculously honored to be your Mommy, and I mean it when I say you will always be my little baby. I love you all the way to the stars, Aidan Kai. Happy Birthday.