Today is your 18th birthday, son. Good Lord. Where did the time go? I swear, just a blink ago, I was bringing you home from the hospital. Now, you're old enough to receive a letter from (gulp) the Selective Services for your "registration". I remember every bit of those 18 years and then some.
I remember the first time you said "hello" with those soft butterfly kicks inside my belly. I remember our long talks on my drive home from work where, really, I did the only talking before you were born. As soon as we found out that you were going to be a boy, I would address you out loud by name and you would answer back with those flutters. Luckily, those wonderful conversations continue to this day, except now you can engage in a meaningful dialogue with me vocally. I do miss the flutters, though.
Our bond has always been too strong to break. Even though Daddy tried to sabotage it by cramming "dada" as many times as possible into every sentence and attempted to bribe you with promises of a shiny new car on your 16th birthday if you uttered his name first, you wouldn't be swayed. Your first word was "mama".
From the time you crawled to the time you scooted to the time you walked and then ran, I was there to bear witness to your accomplishments. I watched with tears in my eyes as you waved goodbye to me with an "I got this" confidence on your first day of Kindergarten. And I choked back tears of unending pride as you crossed the stage to receive your high school diploma only a few months ago. I've been there for all the firsts: your first steps, your first word, your first time riding a bike, your first trip to the emergency room, your first time behind the wheel, your first job, your first day of college, your first girlfriend and, inevitably, your first heartbreak. And I plan on being there for many more "firsts" in your life.
Thank you, son, for making me a better person. I can't imagine what my life would have been like without you in it and I thank God that he saw fit to place you firmly in my arms 18 years ago. On this day that you become "a man", please know that, to me, you will always and forever be my Baby-Love.