Tuesday, June 28, 2022

To Max On Your Fourteenth Birthday


To my oldest baby,

Here we are the night before number fourteen. I nearly failed to get the annual "last picture" as a thirteen year old, but when I remembered I was greeted with a teenager who wouldn't leave the covers and pretended to be asleep, while telling me to leave the room. A few minutes went by before you emerged from your room and asked me to take a better birthday picture of you. This is life with you lately. Typical teen, lots of attitude, and then coming to your senses to go along with whatever is thrown at you. 

A lot will happen on this trip around the sun. You're gearing up to get your learners permit, you'll learn to drive, maybe even get a car, and begin high school. High school! It feels like yesterday I was all sobs thinking about you going off to kindergarten. Luckily, the pandemic gave us loads of time together and now I'm super excited to see you begin this chapter of your life. I can't guarantee dry eyes and zero embarrassment on the first day of school, but I will try to play it cool just for you.

This past year held a lot for you: many travels and a crazy amount of learning and growing physically, emotionally, and mentally. You're definitely a beach boy. You could spend days running in the waves, body surfing, and building sand castles right at the water's edge. I realized how deep your natural love of the ocean was when we were on the Oregon coast in the fall. It definitely wasn't swimming weather, but you insisted on going in the water and put up a fight about leaving the beaches on a chilly day. You say you love mountains just as much, and while you're an excellent climber and mountain explorer, there's no doubt you're at peace and happiest on a beach.

You still remain a adventurous eater as well as a creative chef in the kitchen. We've been spoiled with intriguing dinners and help in the kitchen each evening. Despite sometimes forgetting to refill the water dish, you're an amazing dog owner. Zeus knows you're his walker, bedtime cuddler, and chaser when he has the zoomies. You like to read all kinds of books, but have taken an interest in human rights and slavery novels. Along with your siblings, you keep track of current events across the globe and voice your thoughts regularly on the subjects. I'm constantly impressed with your knowledge on a wide range of topics.

A recent conversation we has left me in awe of your wisdom. I asked how you were feeling about not only beginning high school, but returning to school after a pandemic. To paraphrase our conversation, you told me that you're both nervous and excited. Nervous because you don't know how high school is going to be and the world is different now. You feel like you'll always have to be on guard at school, but you're also excited for new experiences and learning opportunities. In the same breath, you mentioned that you knew high school wasn't going to be all fun and games because you're older and more is expected of you. "These are important years and I know I'm going to have to work hard." I broke the heaviness by joking that you're still a kid and we won't hold it against you if you mess up and make mistakes. High school will be a crash course in making mistakes and how to deal with them. You laughed when I said, "besides, it won't be anything I haven't done." I shouldn't be surprised by our conversation because it's so very you, to realize the importance of your upcoming adventure while also being excited to go for it. 

I think I say this each and every year, but thanks for making me a mom. You've changed my perspective on so many things and you continue to make me challenge myself by going outside of my comfort zones. I'm honestly not sure where I would be without you. I love you! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey through life. I get one of the best seats in the house and I'm thrilled to watch this next year unfold. 

Love forever and always, 


Playing on the beach on the Gulf.

Climbing a waterfall at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park in Minnesota.

Homemade mac and cheese made by YOU.

You love board and card games.

In water and exploring sees you at your happiest.

Also with food. Lots and lots of food of any kind.

On a recent Mom and Max date to see the latest Jurassic World movie.

A pretty awesome big brother who puts up with A LOT.