Good morning, sweet boy. Let me see that smile. Oh, come on. I know it’s there somewhere. Behind all that hair.

It’s your birthday. You’re sixteen years old today. And while you will view this day, and indeed this year, with excitement and the promise of new experiences, I will view it with a touch of sadness.

Because I realize that your time as my baby boy is dwindling.

Because I know that with ‘sixteen’ comes ‘can I borrow the car?’

Because I know that with ‘sixteen’ comes ‘can I stay out later?’

Because I know that instead of losing sleep because you are crying with a tummy ache I’ll be losing sleep waiting until you are safely home.

Because you tell me not to worry. You tell me that I can trust you. And I know that’s true. But I want to keep you close. I want to protect you from all the bad that’s out there, but I want to give you wings to experience all the good. Most of all, I want to selfishly pretend that you’re still two, or four, or twelve. When all you needed was me. And we’d dance around the room singing along with Anita Baker:

You bring me joy
When I’m down
Oh, so much joy
When I lose my way your love comes smiling on me . . .

I’m happy for you, of course. But I’m also a little sad. So be well. Be safe. And above all, be happy.

Because sixteen years ago, you came into my life, a 7 lb. 8 oz. bundle of curiosity and questions. And nothing has been the same since.