This year the words are caught in my throat before I even start to put them down on the page.
Baxter, you are amazing. Here you are now, a senior in high school, deep in the college application process. Writing and editing essays has taken up a fair amount of your time this fall. Somehow, before the last of the snow eventually thaws, we’ll know with some certainty where you’ll spend your next several birthdays.
But even as you plan for your next steps you are also steeped in life. You are happy in your friendships, old and new. You’re engaged in your classes, excitedly sharing details about what you’re learning in the evenings. You’re especially loving Psychology and Zoology right now, ever broadening your love of the sciences.
These days we chat about everything: past, present, and future. Last week we talked some about your early years, and the conversation turned to your abiding love for and deep expertise about dinosaurs back when you were little, which prompted a plan for me to bring all your old toy animals home from my office. You couldn’t believe I still had them, those toys we played with for hours on end for years. You still have the original three?! you asked excitedly. They are on your bed now, your name in faded red Sharpie on the belly of each one, waiting for you to come back from Dad’s. Like me, they remember you bringing them to preschool at UCSF and then teaching your kindergarten class all about them in your first year of school. They too seem shocked to discover that you are in your last year of school, but we’re all trying to play it cool.
I watch now with wonder as all the most prominent early characteristics of your personality reemerge so clearly after a few quiet years of adolescence. As easily as I see the bright and exuberant little boy you once were, I can also see the kind, hilarious, and thoughtful adult you are becoming. I have always been proud to be your mother, but perhaps never more so than at this moment.
This last year with you at home is a gift, Baxter. Thank you for being born all those years ago, and for being great company all along the way. When the time comes for you to head off to college next fall, I’ll surely be sad for me but very glad for the place you’ll create in the world. Wherever you end up, the world is so lucky to have you.
Happy 17th Birthday, Sweetheart.
Mom (& the original three*)
*which might be the original two + an interloper but I’m working on it!