The Greatest Gift

This past Saturday, my boy turned eight.  Eight!

Where has my little one gone?  I looked away for just a moment and years slipped away.

I’m melancholy for days of a tiny boy dressed in onesies and blue jeans, small white sneakers on feet not yet walking.  A bald head, so smooth to touch, bright eyes and a smile.

My pal, my little man, who went everywhere with me.  Graciously listening to my ramble from his car seat, greeting me every morning with a smile and at night, a snuggle, while reading Good Night, Moon and Big Red Barn.  Those books, now tossed by the wayside, making room for Harry Potter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

What a beautiful baby you were.  Happy, curious, never once bothered by two strangers whisking you away from all that was familiar in a northern Russian baby house to a new home far across the sea.

I think you knew we belonged to you, as much as we believed, you belonged to us.

I ponder your birthday…the day you were born and how I wasn’t there to greet you as you emerged into the world.

Who welcomed you?  Who was first to hold you?

Those thoughts used to break my heart, distraught I’d let you down by not being there in your first moments, your first weeks, as I’ve been everyday since you were six months old.

I’m better about it now.  I understand you were in good hands until you were in mine.

This year, your birthday and Mother’s Day collided on the same weekend.  I wasn’t a mother until you.  Motherhood was out of my hands until a woman I never met made it possible.  I owe so much to a stranger somewhere on this planet, maybe still Russia, maybe not, for giving me the greatest gift of my life.

You.

And I wonder, does she think of you?  Of where you might be, if you’re safe?  If you’re happy?

I hope somehow, she knows…You are.  For that is the only gift I can give her.

I see you now, my eight year old.  So grown up, in such a hurry to rush headfirst into being a teenager.  Before your time.

Before I’m ready to let go of my little one.

Slow down, please.

Happy birthday to my beautiful boy.