Hello my Big Bear,
I don’t think I’ve ever written you a letter, but you are sleeping and I’m not so great at talking about deeper feelings. I figured if I waited until morning that the words would disappear into the sunrise as they always do; lost in the stuttering forgetfulness of my mind. As a smart fictional man once said, “… the dreams and secrets of our heart may be spoken, but words are poor handmaidens…”
The night 18 years ago didn’t seem much different than it does now. There was a lot of anticipation of your arrival, excitement of what was to come and a bittersweet sadness that you would no longer be a part of me. You were ready to be born then, just as you are ready to push into adulthood now. Just as it was then, it will seem like it takes forever and then all of the sudden it’ll happen so fast you’ll be unprepared for it. I can only promise you that you’re family will always be there to catch you, just as they had when you rushed out to greet us unexpectedly, and I will always be here to hold you first and to the end.
We had most of 11 years of your life on our own. Lived through days where we didn’t have hot water or a stove, holiday’s that seemed put together with scraps of paper (or chocolate), times when we didn’t have a place to live, food to eat or a bed to sleep in. We lived through so much together, grew up in so many ways together and through it all we held on to each other. There are so many times I wish I could have given you more. You deserved a childhood like your brothers, without all the hardships and issues of dealing with a young single mother. I have a mountain of regrets for every day I lost with you, every minute, every second that I couldn’t give. And if I could give you anything for your 18th birthday it would be that. All of the time we lost.
I don’t know how I would do that without changing who you have become though. That’s the difficult part of the scenario. I’m too proud of you and how far you have come to risk it. My regrets aren’t worth giving up the amazing person you are growing into every day. You’ve come so far and through so much to be who you are and who you are is part of my everything.
I know in many ways it appears more difficult from here. There are so many things you have to accomplish before getting out on your own and then so many things to learn when you get there. Coming from someone who had to learn these things very early in life, it can be a lot to take in, but I will give you the advice that my Mom gave to me.
Take one step at a time. You can not get to the end without taking that first step. You can not get to tomorrow without getting through today. One foot must go in front of the other.
There’s a great part of you that will feel like you have to prove to everyone that you can do everything on your own now that you are 18. But that first step isn’t out the door; the first step is in becoming. A baby doesn’t learn to walk when it leaves the womb, it takes time for him to grow into his legs and learn how to use them. He learns to push up, to crawl, then to stand and walk forward. Use your life to find the tools to grow, the people who love you to learn how to use them and take the time to figure out how to stand before trying to run. You have nothing to prove to anyone love, not even me. You have always been your own person, you are just learning to see you as I have.
It is getting late though and the morning of your big day comes ever closer. I’ve been waiting and preparing for this day for a long time. So here we are again on your birthday, a 2nd 1st day of your whole life. A day when I must learn to let you go, even though you are still with me. I am grateful today for all the time we had as just the two of us, for the family we all built together through the years after and for all the days in all our lives that I get to be your Mommy.
There are no words to say how much I love you big bear. No words at all.