I got totally distracted sitting here at this old computer, searching for the perfect photo to include with your birthday letter. Originally, I was searching for this one of me, holding your new five pound self with your one year old sister on my lap. I love this photo. I remember Grandma bringing Elizabeth in for a hospital visit and thinking that Lizzie looked huge, bloated, as if she had had some sort of allergic reaction in her twenty four hour absence from me. Lolo is holding you in this picture and,man, did she love you. You had her heart in the palm of your preemie hand from the get go.
When I looked for the photograph though, this drawing popped up. It’s one that I created of you and Mrs. Fleege, when you were Quinn’s age, and in her classroom. I owe everything to Mrs. Fleege because you were a really hard toddler … or at least that is what I thought. Looking back, I think I was just a really hard mother. Still, Mrs. Fleege saved both our spirits during those years. You must have drawn a million pictures in her room and I saved them all. I really did. They were amazing.
It’s funny that this particular drawing showed up on my screen because today Quinn and I went to meet his new teacher, as we will be out of town on the official meet and greet day. New teacher, same room. To be honest, when I walked into the room, I did not feel excited or nostalgic. I kind of felt like “oh holy shit, this again.” She said the words, “snack calendar” and a piece of me died inside. I don’t know … maybe the drawing confirms that once Quinn walks through those doors, lightning speed takes over.
As I continued to hunt for photos of your birthday, I saw head shots (the one seen here was shot by Kris Lou and Erik Robert), taken just under a year ago. Yesterday, when you ran into the house, handsome, tan, smiling and soaking wet from a hose that the neighbor boy attacked you with, I just could not stop staring at you. I remember reading a magazine interview with Brad Pitt’s mom about ten years ago and the interviewer asked his mom if she could understand why he was the sexiest man alive and she said it was hard to see it. Bullshit. If you are ever on the cover of People magazine, I will not deny your magnetism.
Boy, it took a long time to get to this, but happy thirteenth birthday, sweet William. One day you will meet a girl and she will have a crush on you and she will insist that you are a Cancer. She will flip to the horoscope section of a magazine or find an app for that and say, “SEE! I told you that you are a Cancer.” I am telling you right now though that this is not true. I have had your chart done a million times. You are a Leo, by three minutes. A DOUBLE Leo, with both your moon and your sun lighting your fire. You were five weeks early and your labor was long and well, laborious, but you waited until it was time to be a Leo.
Born on the cusp, right in-between things, it seems fitting that your middle name is Grey. You are the best of both signs, and probably the best of both dad and myself. Grey always was my favorite color.
When I took you for a casting call last week for a national skateboard ad, you told me you really wanted it, enough so that you were nervous. When the creative team called your name, you walked in, three skateboards piled in your arms like a tiered cake. You told me later that you were shaking, but were happy that no one could tell. They shut the door behind you and within sixty seconds, I heard them all laughing deep belly laughs. When we got in the car, I asked you what you said to make them laugh and you replied,”I don’t know, Mom. I am fucking hilarious.”
You are, indeed. Your voice is changing and your are eating so much that I feel like I am living with a human tapeworm. By your next birthday, you will be taller than me. No matter what changes or what thirteen brings, I just want you to know that when I look at you, I can feel the enormity of what life has to offer. I can feel that the life you carve out for yourself with be rich and deep, complex and beautiful (and fucking hilarious, of course). Now that I am a mom to a toddler again, I know that I made a million mistakes as your mom and I wish that I understood how to be a better mom when you were little. I hope that you will forgive me those mistakes and know that despite them, I am madly in love with you.
There is a joy in being the third kid, you know, because the Xbox game that I bought you for your present, is one that I never would have allowed Luke to even look at when he was your age. The man at the checkout counter asked if I was aware of the violence and nudity in the game and I shrugged and nodded. You’re welcome.
One of my favorite William stories is from the time I was packing up clothing for Goodwill, getting rid of all of the things you had outgrown. You sat on the floor, crying, insisting, “But I AM A GOOD WILL.” You are such a good one. May this year continue to bring you the light you deserve. I love you.