Nine.

LittleBrother,

You’ve been nine for five days and I’m just sitting down to write your birthday letter. As I’m sure you know, when your birthday falls on Thanksgiving, things get a little crazy. Don’t worry. I had to share my 30th birthday with Jesus, so I feel your pain.

You have made me laugh every single day of this year. You do or say something or give me a look that just cracks me up. I read an article about one of those pseudo-science studies earlier this year stating the youngest child is the funniest in the family. In ours, it’s true. Don’t tell your brother. Or do. It will bother him. Thank you for making us laugh on all days, but especially the hard ones.

You’re busy learning some hard lessons right now about how what we say and how we say it affects others. I want you to know it’s okay. It’s okay to learn those lessons now, as a newly minted nine year old. I witnessed many adults this year who didn’t care one lick about tone or word choice or anyone else. I also witnessed how the words of angry adults affected you. I’m sorry you saw the worst of our society, but I hope I did my best to use it as a teaching moment.

When a dear friend of mine met you in your own space this year, she said, “Oh, he has a giant heart.” You do. That’s why it bothers you so much that you sometimes choose words or a tone that negatively affect others; sometimes you forget to choose kindness and it hurts you to your core. Please don’t forget that hurt, and please keep loving with all of your soul.

There’s one more thing you did every single day this year, and it really made a difference in my life. You said, “I love you, mommy.” You’ve said it every day for so very long. Unprompted. In the car. Waiting in lines. In front of friends. In front of strangers. In passing. While cuddling. At bedtime. First thing in the morning. All day. Every single day. I love you, too.

I hope this next year brings you joy, because I know it will bring you love.

Love,
Mommy

Nine.

 

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Eleven.

Dear BigBrother,

You’re eleven.

Eleven

Eleven.

Okay. Just had to say that first.

You’ve been most awesome this year, I must let you know. I watched you come into your own on the baseball field. You learned how to keep going when you made a mistake, both on the field and off. That’s one thing I really like about you: You just. keep. going. I hope that stays with you throughout your life. It’s a good trait to have on your side.

You’ve become quite the conversationalist this year. You regularly stop in my office or bedroom and ask me questions or share opinions or pick my mind on how to deal with a situation or understand something about life. It’s felt really great to get to know you in new ways, to see what makes you passionate. I do know that injustice makes you angry. You want everyone to have the same shot at life that you have, to feel the same love you feel. We talk about so many new things now. I like that you feel you can discuss everything from politics to Pokemon. I’m always here to talk with you.

One thing I’ve noticed about you over the past year is your fierce loyalty. I absolutely love that about you. It comes to you naturally from both of your parents. I love watching you get riled up when you feel like someone has wronged your brother or a friend. Just be careful with it. Not everyone is worth trusting. Trust me on this one. (See what I did there.)

I love how hard you try in school. I REALLY love how hard you’ve tried to stay organized this year. I know that’s a struggle for you in various ways. Me too. Sorry? I think it’s really cool how you manage to just be *you* at school. And home. And everywhere. You’re pretty cool. Keep being you.

Some big changes await this coming year. We’ve got it. We really do. Your dad and I will be here through it all to help you navigate the changes and to love you no matter what. No matter what.

Keep your chin up. You’re a good kid and I’m so proud to be your mama.

Eleven

Love, Mom