It is 1:00 AM, and believe it or not Dominick is at work detailing a car for a wedding tomorrow for one of his long time customers. He will go back to work tomorrow afternoon to detail another car, after fitting in a family fishing derby day earlier that had long been scheduled.
What a blessing to have a husband who is so committed to his family, so willing to work harder than anyone I know to provide for us all. The kids and I went to see him on a job today, and I was deeply touched by how all wanted to jump out and help him, how all offered to go in tonight after celebrating Matthew's birthday so he wouldn't have to be there so late all alone working. I think it is important for our children to understand what puts the bread on the table, how much effort it takes to care for our family...and to learn what it means to be a real man who does whatever it takes to ensure his family has food, clothing and shelter. It will help our sons to understand what we hope they become, and our daughters to know what to look for in a future husband. It may look different for every man, but the commitment, heart and desire is what I hope is learned. whatever field they go into.
Speaking of Matt's birthday, today was a quiet celebration with family and family-like friends. His best buddy is out of town, and we have cautioned the kids that from now on birthdays will be toned down affairs anyway. Fortunately, they all understand and happily accept the more homegrown version without all the hoopla. We had the LaJoy cake, made by his brothers and sisters, and a trick gift of a bike horn wrapped in a box with a can of beans to throw him off track. We are getting him a new bike for his birthday but needed him to go pick it out so we get the right size. No more riding the broken bike of Daddy's or the old small bike he has long since outgrown! He also received his all time favorite Wii game from our friends, a flying game (as if there was any question about that!) and a book of Sherlock Holmes mysteries which will surely become a beloved classic.
11 years old, and yet in many ways always much older than his chronological age. Matthew is where it all began, and he even shares a birthday with his former adoption agency director! Happy Birthday, Nancy!
Matthew honey, you are such a gentle, kind hearted boy. I am so glad we had the special time together at the beginning of this school year when we began homeschooling. I will never forget it, and I think we needed that time alone. You have taught me so much and continue to do so every single day. You are passionate about many things, and your desire to learn more makes my job so very easy. I don't know of another mom of any 10 year old (ooopsss...it is past midnight, you are now officially 11!) who has their son help around the home as much as you do, and cheerfully to boot. You have always been who you are, if that makes sense. Although you are certainly growing and changing, the essence of Matthew has always been solid.
I remember holding your tiny hand in mine while crossing the street when you were a toddler. Even then there was something comforting and sure about your grip. You are self-aware, you are tuned in, you are articulate, you are filled with God's spirit in almost all you do. You have no need to boast, instead choosing quiet, responsible behavior to speak for you. You are not a "star" and do not have the need to be noticed, and yet it is that very quality which causes you to be noticed by those who are drawn to your steady grace.
You were my first child, the only one really whom I got to cradle and rock, gently singing to you as you fell asleep in my arms. As we joked today, I never really had much of a chance at that with Josh as we struggled to bond, and I totally missed it with Kenny and the girls. But you and I, we had that time together, and I am very grateful to have had it with you. It lessened the sting of not having it with all the others, as I could recall what it felt like, and know I had not missed out.
You were my trial run, and I was surprised at what I learned about myself. Never imagining myself to be very "motherly", my relationship with you showed me that I was indeed a nurturing spirit. You have been my co-pilot for many a trek, and a better one I could never have.
You are uncomplicated, accepting, and easy to be with. You are a leader without even realizing you are one.
We have been through so much together, you and I, and this year in particular has upended our lives yet again. Yet there you stand, all smiles in your sturdy body, ready to take on the world. Remember walking out the door of school this year for the last time, both of us trembling inside just a bit as we knew we were taking on a new frontier that was unknown to us? We held hands after we left your best friend who cried after being told of our decision, and you quietly stood there in the doorway holding him in your arms unashamedly, and I couldn't have been prouder of you.
We weathered the storms of emotions overseas together, and your calm and practical wisdom helped in ways you will never understand. So did your warm hugs as I was hurting. But it was your open armed acceptance of two frightened little girls who had badly hurt us all that told me much about your character, and seeing you with them today as you embrace them as part of our family shows me that I have nothing to fear for you in the future, for you have already learned so much about love, and already shown a maturity beyond what most adults would be capable of.
You stood in church and spoke, welcoming our new pastor with confidence, looking all the more grown up in your brown suit as your head barely was visible over the pulpit. Today several months later you would be 2" taller in that same spot, with broader shoulders and a less childlike face...for the man is beginning to appear within the child that still remains.
How I love you, my dear Matthew! Your delight in the simple things, your intensity when focused on a building project, your warmth as you walk with your arm draped over the shoulders of one of your brothers...and your softly whispered "I love you too, Mommy". You melted my heart from the first time I gently picked up your tiny, emaciated body from your crib in isolation, half a world away. And when moments later you nuzzled my neck as if you had always belonged there I knew you were the one I had waited for all those long years, and you were the reason I waited patiently without panic...for God had the most special son of all in mind for us.
Happy Birthday, Matthew. Your childhood is going by too fast! But as much as I hate saying goodbye to the boy you are, I love meeting the man you will be.
And as we always say to one another, in a way that makes sense only to you and I "You are the love of my life!" and you always respond "You are the life of my love!".