Hearty birthday wishes

Matthew, four years ago, I wrote a piece for my Midtown column, ruminating on the emotions I felt about your brother turning ten. I vowed to do the same thing for you, but the scope of my column changed this year, and I regret that I couldn’t share this with a broader audience. But share it, I must.

You came into our lives ten years ago this morning, and while I was overjoyed that you were here, I was also afraid. I had no idea how we were going to afford a second baby, and I was scared for you. I’m sorry if I ever showed that fear to you; please don’t think for a moment that it’s tinged with even a tiny bit of regret, because there’s never been any. And it would seem there’s never been any fear on your part – that’s been a hallmark of your personality.

Mom and I have always been amazed at the strong way you embrace whatever’s next. From one stage to another, adopting one skill and the next, you’ve been an ever-onward type of child. This usually manifests itself in sports, where coaches and spectators have repeatedly told us, “He’s absolutely fearless.”

I don’t know where you get that – maybe from your mother. And I’m certain you don’t get your athletic abilities from either of us. But I like to think maybe you get your corresponding attitude from us, as you’re not the type of fearless that often turns heartless. You’re never a jerk when you play, and you don’t get so competitive as to put winning above all else. Somehow, your courage is tempered in grace, and I’m proud to see that every time.

Need a lift?

“Need a lift?”

That grace doesn’t stop in the sports arena; ever since you were an infant, you exuded – and shared – happiness. You were (and still are) joy incarnate, and I’m thankful for that joy every day. I’ve dreaded this day, because I’ve worried that your bliss is going to slough away with your childhood – but I’ve been wrong. It’s part of you, and I’m proud when I catch glimpses of the man you’re going to become. You’re always quick with a kind word and a snuggle, and there’s great maturity in both of those.

You’re the most loving, caring, helpful, uplifting person I know, and sometimes there’s so much gratitude in my heart for that, it feels like it could burst. It’s no wonder you were born with an “angel kiss” – a hemangioma – on the bridge of your nose, in the shape of a heart. You have blessed us and the rest of the world with profuse love in every encounter since then.

That mark is what you are, Matthew – all heart. Your courage, your grace, your love – all of them show heart. I’d like to keep you young, but I can’t, and it wouldn’t be fair, anyway. A heart like yours must be shared with the world, so eventually we’ll need to send you out into it. But I’m going to enjoy our time together until then.

Welcome to your second decade, and Happy Birthday to you – always.

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About Dan Bain

Dan is an award-winning humorist, features writer, emcee and entertainer from Raleigh, NC. His collection of humor essays, A Nay for Effort, has earned him fans from one end of his couch to the other. Why not join them and buy one? (You won't have to sit on his couch.) Dan will donate 10 percent of the book's proceeds to education. You can check it out at www.danbain.net; thanks!
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3 Responses to Hearty birthday wishes

  1. Terri Tompkins says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your child, Dan. I’m sure that you and your wife are due a great deal of the credit for the outstanding person that Matthew is. Even innate characteristics must be nurtured, in order to flourish. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Matthew!

  2. Courage and grace. Couldn’t ask for more. What a kid.
    Happy Birthday Matthew! May you always find those who will cherish and appreciate you.

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