My sweet boy, on Friday, you'll be a whopping six years old. SIX! I remember the day you were born like it was just yesterday. You woke me up on a Thursday early early in the morning, and after only seven short hours I was holding you in my arms. When I saw your little round face, dark hair, blue blue eyes, and long eyelashes I remember thinking to myself, "I knew he was going to look like that." I held you close for hours and hours and never wanted to let you go.
But slowly you grew bigger, bigger, and I started letting go just a tiny bit. First it was things like putting you in your crib in your own room, watching you crawl a little farther, letting you try to climb up on the couch by yourself, letting go of your hand as you took your first steps, and giving you your own fork and spoon at the table. Then it turned into things like sending you to preschool and leaving you with Mimi and Pa for a weekend. But each time I let go, you came right back and took my hand or wrapped your little arms around my neck or gave me a big wet kiss on the cheek.
During these last six years I've watched you turn into such a sweet and sensitive boy. You're quick to offer a helping hand and you're always concerned about how other people are feeling. I remember one day a couple years ago, after Gramma got the cast off of her ankle, you were walking upstairs with her at her house and stopped dead in your tracks, looked up at her and said, "Gramma, how's your ankle doing today?" Such a sweet and thoughtful question for such a little boy.
You've also become a most amazing and loving big brother. The way you held Annabel and looked at her tiny face when she was a baby always melted my heart. And now that she's well on her way to being two and is sometimes (most of the time) a little quick to say "NO!" or "MINE!," you still find ways to make her laugh and help her learn to share. I love watching you climb into her crib and lay down with her early in the morning. I love listening to you talk to her or sing her songs when we walk home from school. I love seeing your face light up when she comes in the room and decides to sit down on the couch right next to you. I hope and pray that the love you have for her only grows with time. You are definitely a great big brother.
Time seems to have flown by with you, but how could it not when we've done so many fun things? Rocking in the rocking chair, reading books, knocking over block towers, racing cars and trucks and tractors, hiking through the woods, splashing in waterfalls, visiting Mrs. Sandburg's goats, eating ice cream and apples with peanut butter and so many goldfish, learning letters and numbers, kicking the soccer ball, riding bikes, going for walks, hitting golf balls, swimming in the ocean, making sandcastles, going to the zoo, playing putt-putt, dancing in the kitchen, giving Annabel hugs and kisses, and cooking all sorts of things have really filled up our days together. I've loved every minute that I got to stay home with you, except maybe for the minutes when you threw all your food on the floor, gave Annabel a tiny pinch, dumped out all the trucks in your truck basket after we had just cleaned them up, or showed me (with huge smile and hysterical laughter) how you had answered the question, "how much does your mama weigh?" with "a lot" - but even those minutes weren't all that bad.
This past year was a little tough for me as I let you go a little more and watched you make your way through Kindergarten. But every day after school, again, you came right back to me with a big hug and an even bigger smile. Although there were a few tough weeks during your transition, I couldn't be more proud of the way you've grown and the things you've learned this year. With each new word you sound out and each sentence you read on your own and each page you turn by yourself, I let you drift just a little further out and away, but then there comes a word you're not sure of and here you come back again. I so love our time together in the evening before bed when we read a couple books, sing your prayers, turn out the light, and talk about your day and what we want to do tomorrow. I especially love that our talking almost always turns into laughing. You have the best laugh.
I can't wait to see what six has in store for you. Will you take golf lessons? Join a baseball team? Sign up for a summer camp? Make a new friend? Swim from one side of the pool to the other without touching the bottom? Maybe you'll do little things, or maybe you'll do big things, but whatever you do, I'll be right there with you cheering you on the whole way.
I know without a doubt that I can speak for all of us - your big noisy crazy family from Virginia to Pennsylvania to Massachusetts to Oregon to Colorado to Tennessee to California to Vermont to New Hampshire and especially up in heaven - and tell you that we will always be behind you, loving you and praying for you.
As you grow and change this year and in the years to come, there will be more and more days where I have to let you make decisions, make mistakes, and learn things on your own. More and more days that I have to let you go just a little bit further. But I want you to remember that you can always come back, always take my hand, always ask for help, because I'll always be waiting right here for you, my most favorite boy in the whole world.
Happy Birthday, Tommy! May six be your best year yet. I love you to the moon and back, to the moon and back.