Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Letter To My Son On His 21st Birthday

Dear Kyle:

When we brought you home from the hospital twenty-one years ago, we sat you down in the middle of the family room floor in your car seat, looked at each other and said, "Now what?" 

The cat took an immediate dislike to you (okay, it was really complete and total hatred), you were a barracuda when I nursed you, you blew out your diaper at LEAST once a day, you spit up gallons, usually of the projectile variety, and yet, we STILL found you exquisite. 

And then we blinked, and today, you're an adult. A real, honest-to-goodness adult, at least in the eyes of the law. I, however, know you better as the man-boy who still brings rocks home in his pockets, who gets completely animated when talking about subjects like purkinje cells (which I still don't understand), who is solicitous with his grandmother one moment, and then is bouncing around like an overgrown puppy the next.  So on this day of reflection and celebration, here are a few things I'd like you to know:

Never lose your tender heart. You try to hide it from others, maybe from fear of appearing vulnerable, but it's an admirable trait to have and should be nurtured.

Remember the importance of being patient. 

Make sure you smile more often than you frown.

Be kind. 

Although you and your sister may squabble from time to time, remember that friends will come and friends will go, but you two will always have each other.

Now that you are legally old enough to drink alcohol, I hope you don't make it a habit to do so. I especially hope you never use alcohol in an attempt to fix anything in your life, because it won't.

Look for the good in every situation, no matter how hopeless that situation seems to be.

Wear sunscreen.

Drive friendly.

When the right girl comes along, you'll know it. If you aren't sure, then she isn't it.

Know that I will always make time to talk to you whenever you need me.

Don't worry so much about what others think of you; chances are, they aren't thinking about you at all.

Shyness can be mistaken for arrogance. Even in the most socially uncomfortable situations, when you wish you could disappear down a rabbit hole, do everything you can to look pleasant and relaxed.

If you have to ask yourself if you should be doing something or not, the answer is not.

Compromise is a good thing; settling is not.

Never let yourself run out of toilet paper.

Develop some strategies to prevent procrastination; it is your worst enemy.

Never stop picking up rocks and bringing them home to me.

Happy birthday, College Boy. I love you more than words can describe.




  1. happy birthday to your son... beautiful letter and wise advice. :)

    1. Thanks! I keep thinking of more things I should have included. May have to give him a chapter 2!

  2. Happy Birthday, so sweet. I was thinking of my own son (projectile vomiting and all) and what a wonderful young man he is. (Wipes a tear from the eye).

    1. Thank you so much! You had a projectile vomiter, too? He spit up until he was 17 months old. Seriously, he was 17 months old and had drunk some milk (from a cup) and spit. it. up. I suppose he had what they now call reflux. It's a joy to have a boy, isn't it? They truly are sweeter than girls.

  3. Happy birthday Kyle! It feels like we're running out of time. There are so many things I still want to teach my kids, so many experiences I want to have with them, but they're growing so fast. Writing it down is a good way to get some things across. Lots of good things in yours!

  4. This is so heartfelt and just perfect! My oldest is closer to 30 than 20 (actually, my oldest 2 are!), and yet I can put myself in your shoes very easily. Those mom feelings never go away, no matter what the age of the child. Happy birthday to Kyle!

    1. Thank you, Kristi! It's the closest thing I could get to writing him a manual :)

  5. Happy birthday! Lovely letter.

  6. Great advice. I especially like "be kind". If everyone led with kindness, it would be so wonderful.


  7. Love this! I know it is heart felt...cuz, you know, my heart felt it!
    My middle child has that introverted quiet thing that is misunderstood by strangers too. I am with her right now and got to meet her teaching partner and best friend from year #1 of grad school today. He told about how when they both came for their accepted student visits the spring before coming to grad school, he told his friends that he had met her, that she appeared to hate everything, and that if they both came to UNC they would never be friends! Now they prove every day that men and women can be incredible friends.