Okay, many of you have read this before. It is something I wrote two years ago for Brandon's 18th birthday and high school graduation. Here we are, same season, 2 years later. How is it possible that I have a son turning 20? Wow....it is unbelievable the way time flies. While it seems that it should get easier each year to let go a little bit more, it doesn't. The grip he has on my heart just gets tighter and tighter. I re-read this today while thinking about him and the fact that as of tomorrow he will no longer be a teenager.....
First I fell in love with the idea of you, then I heard your beautiful heartbeat and I was hooked. The day you arrived, you forever changed my world and everything that mattered.
Once upon a time, I swaddled you tightly and carried you home,
and you cried, and you cried and you cried, but only at 2 a.m., and I loved you even more.
Once upon a time, I did nothing all day long but hold you in my arms and sing to you. The first time you gazed so deeply into my heart and smiled, my insides melted and ached with overwhelming joy, and I loved you even more.
Once upon a time, at barely 9 months old you stumbled awkwardly across Grandma Judy's living room, wearing a yellow blanket sleeper. Not a step or two but the whole distance, and that's when I realized the world better watch out because you were amazing.
Once upon a time we spent hours chasing butterflies across the backyard, stomping in puddles, pushing trucks through the dirt, and squealing with laughter. And you sampled your first ribs, and pickles and lemons and I giggled at the look on your face.
Once upon a time, you twirled across the stage and dazzled the judges with your dimples, and they crowned you Mr. Hawaiian Tropic Prince and I was delighted.
Once upon a time we moved to Oregon, and I dropped you off at daycare for the very first time. You waved goodbye with such confidence, and I cried. Then came kindergarten and again you trotted down the hall wondering why I had to walk you to class and you couldn't go on your own. And I knew you would be okay but I held your hand anyway.
Once upon a time I watched your first t-ball game, and then indoor soccer, and I realized your were an athlete, I was in awe of you.
Once upon a time I chased you through the tunnels, and down the slides at Superplay. We discovered Sand Lake and camped, and camped and camped. You yelled to go faster as we tore through the dunes in our sand rail, you had no fear. We celebrated birthdays 3, 4 and 5 and I loved you even more.
Once upon a time our lives changed, and we met a man who loved us both with all his heart. You gained a sister who would turn out to be your worst enemy and very best friend, depending on the day. And that is when my squeaky clean, city boy, went country and began his journey to who he was always meant to be. And I loved you even more.
Once upon a time you asked for a chainsaw for your 8th birthday, and then you fell your first tree in our front yard, and I was scared. You rode on the CAT, and played in the dirt. You caught 1 fish, then 2 and it became a hobby.
Once upon a time you and a boy named Zach, and girl named Chelsea were inseparable. You rode bicycles down hills and hunted for squirrels. You learned the hard way, that you must eat what you hunt, while you barbequed a blue jay.
Once upon a time, you wanted to play football, you were 8, and weighed 52 lbs. We spent all day Sundays on the football field for the next 6 years. We made lifelong friendships on those sidelines. Those Sundays were my favorites.
And then you turned 9, and we bought you a dirtbike. We watched you climb on, take off, and go full speed ahead, right into the side of my car, and I laughed, I just couldn't help it.
Once upon a time you turned 10, and sat upon your papa Kenny's lap while he gifted you your very first gun, and a hunter was born. It was a very special day, and we have the picture to prove it.
Once upon a time you were 11, and I doubted my skills as a parent, I was researching military school, and then you turned 12, and we survived.
Once upon a time we spent days at the beach running in waves, and weeks at the mountain learning to board, and in those vacations we made memories that will last me a lifetime.
Once upon a time, we moved to Redway and met Missy, Jeff, Savannah and Grant, and they became your second family. Although it has never been easy to share you, they have always been there for you and loved you like their own. For that I can never thank them enough, and will eternally be grateful, because you have not only one family to love you, but two. You are a lucky guy.
Once upon a time you headed off to high school and four years of your life have passed by far too quickly. I have watched you wrestle and run, play football , basketball and baseball. It was sitting on the sidelines that I learned and I realized I will always be your biggest cheerleader and fan, and sometimes your toughest critic.
Once upon a time you shot your first buck, and your first turkey, caught your first fish in Alaska, and brought home wild pig for the dinner table. You always seem your happiest when heading off to Nanny's ranch or on to the river for a weekend outdoor adventure, and that is such a big part of what makes you so special.
Once upon a time, you turned 16 and learned to drive, and I was frightened, and appreciative that I wasn't the one teaching you. Once upon a time you stepped of the school bus and into your truck, and I didn't want you to grow up because time was passing too quickly.
Once upon a time you went to your first prom and had your first girlfriend, you were so handsome. You went to your first parties and I worried, and never slept a wink until you were safely home.
Once upon a time you stepped onto the field as a high school quarterback, something you earned and deserved. I took way too many pictures because I was so excited.
Once upon a time I stood by your side while you said goodbye to your grandma, the tears fell freely and my heart broke because I couldn't take away the pain.
Once upon a time you thought I was the meanest, toughest, strictest mom in the world, and I prayed for wisdom. Every boundary I have set, rule I have made, NO I have shouted has been with your best interest at heart. I know that it is hard to believe, and right now you don't understand, but someday you will.........I am the meanest mom ever because I love you more than life itself.
Once upon a time I heard parents talk about how excited they were for their kids to graduate, move out, and become independent, and I just didn't understand. I want the opposite, to stop time, to keep you close and to never have to let you go.
Once upon a time, I wished for a baby and God gave me you...and for that I am humbled. I know that you are destined for great things, and you can have everything you dream of in life. Letting go of control and watching you do it on your own will be very difficult for me. I know you are ready even though I am not. No matter what road you travel, always remember that home is just around the bend, and I will always be there for you with my arms and my heart wide open. I will never be able to express to you how much I love and how proud you make me. I am so excited to see the once upon a times that lie ahead while you make the journey to your happily ever after.