To My Sweet August,
Although you were very much wished for and planned for and longed for by your Daddy and me, I can still remember the slight catch in my throat, the ever so slight tug on my deepest heart string when I imagined you actually joining our family. You see, your older brother Aidan had already burst forth into our lives and hearts and we loved him with a fierceness and devotion that seeemed unable to be duplicated. But here you were, and coming very soon, and you would require and expect the same. How could I possibly have room enough in my heart for two? As the day of your birth drew ever closer, my fear began to take root.
But your dear Grandma Jackie assured me, unswervingly, that with the birth of each child, a mother's heart simply expands. Seismically, my heart would swell and undulate, creating new forms and shapes to fit you in. She promised.
And then you came.
We really, really believed that you were going to be a girl. The whole time that you were in my deepest places, you were different than Aidan. You moved differently and you made me feel completely different than I had when I was carrying your older brother. Obviously, you must be a girl.
You are most definitely not a girl.
You are our August.
And here you are, turning six! And, although it seems, at times, that this day has arrived here by express delivery, you have managed to fill these past six years with a richness and depth that didn't exist in my life before you.
You are an incredible boy.
And so, in honor of your big day, I thought that I would construct a list of the ten things that I love about you most (ten because it is a nice, even number and one that people have come to expect with best of anything lists--I could have put more, believe me!).
TEN THINGS I LOVE ABOUT AUGUST:
1) You love and appreciate good food. I don't mean fine food. I mean good food. Meat and potatoes, biscuits and gravy, brisket and ribs, fried eggs and bacon. Thank God you have a mommy and a daddy who can attempt to balance out your epicurean tendencies with fruits and vegetables and fiber. Otherwise, you would be headed down a path of hedonistic debauchery. But you earn big time points for the fact that you genuinely enjoy sharing a meal with others, taking time to revel in the tastes and textures.
2) You love to dance. I wish that I could insert a short video of your latest moves so that others could truly witness the zeal and utter concentration you offer to your art. Whether Lady Gaga, Dead or Alive or Erasure belts though the speakers, it matters not. As long as it has a beat, you can dance to it. You seem to be telling a story as you move, one that you offer up to your private viewers (you refuse to showcase your talent beyond the protected walls of our house) with the perfect mix of seriousness and jovialness.
3) You love dogs. Not just your dog. All dogs. You see something in animals that others must not because you are drawn to something deep within them, every time you meet one. Perhaps, in the inevitable slowing of your heart that comes when you truly engage with an animal and love on them with full abandon, you tune into a pulse that not everyone does. You hear them. Really hear them. And they know it.
4) You love to cuddle. This is a big deal because when I used to imagine having children I would always secretly pray to God for cuddly kids. I knew that I would be cuddly with you but I wanted desperately for you to be cuddly back. Not all kids are, you know. For some kids, that is not their love language, at all. But it's one of mine and it's one of yours and through our daily cuddle sessions, we are able to speak into each others hearts.
5) You are Adventurous. Daring. Bold. Most often, Fearless. All things that I am most definitely NOT. When I watch you hop on your snowboard or skateboard or a zip line or a climbing wall I marvel at the confidence you have in your abilities. Of course you can do it. Because you believe that you can. This is something I wish that I had mastered years ago: that, quite often, our competence is not solely reliant on our natural abilities but also on our belief that we can actually have such giftedness. You pave a path for me that gives me confidence.
6) You are incredibly thoughtful. You are the King of random acts of kindness. I never taught this to you (although I really wish that I could take credit for this virtue)--you have just always been this way. You look around you and you see. You know when someone needs help and you help them. You think of ways that you can do nice things and you do them: picking up shoes and putting them away, quickly getting dressed and making your bed so that we can get on to the next activity, rushing to find all available stuffed animals and blankets when you brother falls off of his bike, stroking my hair when I am crying, stopping and struggling in your heart when you think about the homeless man that we see walking through our town and asking, "what does he do when it is so cold, Mom? How does he survive?"
The list could go on and on. You are amazing in your ability to treat others as you would want to be treated, although you never expect it in return. That's just the way that you are.
7) You have chubby cheeks. I know that you are probably rolling your eyes at this point, but you must understand-- chubby cheeks are God's way of ensuring that we will care for our babies. You see, all chubby cheeks emit a silent, albeit incredibly strong, imperative to parents which is received and decoded by the parent's brain as this message: "EAT ME!!!!" For the rest of your life, your daddy and I will struggle with the overwhelming urge to bite your cheeks off. If we follow through on this urge, all bets are off and that's the end of the story. But if we resist the urge, just for today, then we can come back again tomorrow and consider the act anew. You see, it's God's insurance policy on babies and children.
8) You are a wonderful listener. Although not as book obsessed as your older brother, you still love a good story, whether imagined or real. And you are always listening. I've learned this as I've read books to your brother. You always like to be engaged with something (drawing, Legos, building forts) in the same room where the reading is happening and it is easy to assume that you are in your own world. But you are listening. And very intently, I might add. Nothing gets by you. Advertisements on the radio--you hear them. What John Stewart is saying about Congress while your daddy watches a replay of The Daily Show--you hear him. What isn't necessarily said, but implied, whether in books, movies or conversations--you hear it.
9) You rejoice with others in their accomplishments, victories, or achievements. When your brother won his Pinewood Derby race this year, you would have thought that you had won. When you watch Cash Cab with your Grandpa and he gets an answer correct, it's as if you were both in the taxi. When I finally hunt down and catch our stinkerpants dog after she has run into the woods on one of our adventures, you pat me on the back and say, "Good job, Mom."
10) And what I love about you most is that you are, simply, the neatest kid to be around. You're funny, smart, good looking. You love life and you work every day to get the most out of it. You have taught me more than I have taught you, I'm sure, but you take it all in stride, as a matter of course. You are devoted, passionate, and fun loving. You are very much what I would like to be.
So, on this, the sixth anniversary of your birth day, I marvel at how very much my heart has expanded and stretched. In my attempt to make room in my heart for another little boy I have discovered something more.
You were there all along.
Between the innocence of babyhood and the dignity of manhood, we find a delightful creature of a boy.
-- Author Unknown