The other day I was sitting in my room as you played outside with your brother and some friends, and I heard the booming voice of a man speaking with alarming familiarity. Concerned, I rushed outside, prepared to ask this stranger what was up, why he was here, how he knows my children -- and it was you.
You were the man with the deep voice.
I don't know when that happened or how I missed it.
But I see your broad shoulders, your big feet, the way your arms rest on top of my shoulders instead of around my waist when we hug, how I can no longer kiss the top of your head because you're as tall as me -- and I realize this is our new truth.
It is more of a miracle to me than your birth. This evolution from wide-eyed, scrunchy-faced newborn -- a wordless infant I read Steinbeck's East of Eden to in order to fill our awkward silences of newly knowing each other -- to more man than boy, and the kind of man who can hold his own in any conversation, from literature to politics to science to popular culture and beyond.
You are a wonder -- to look at, listen to, and be around.
You are my roots and branches and oxygen. You keep me grounded in a good way, you encourage my growth in a broad way, you keep me alive in an everyday way. You fulfill me and sustain me -- you have made me just as much as I have made you.
And today you are 14.
It's wonderful and amazing and astounding and terrifying beyond measure.
Nothing has gone as planned, because that's how life rolls, but you have exceeded every hope I ever had for who you may become.
And I can take very little credit.
I mean, that won't stop me, but we both know it's true.
You have been extraordinary since day one, and my life is extraordinary because you chose me as your forever. And I have no doubt that you did.
Happy Birthday, Big Kid.
I like you, I love you, and I'll always protect you.