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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dear Cade

Dear Cade,

I started this post out as “Cade this and Cade that” but decided I wanted to write this TO you rather than about you. You may never read this, or at least not anytime soon, but it will be here preserved for you, so that someday you can.

With each passing summer or holiday, the impression you make on my heart is deeper, and the tears that flow when you leave are harder to stop. When we first became a family, the coming and going was hard for me, but more-so because I empathized with you and your Dad, a young father and son. I figured it would become more normal for me in time. I’d get used to it with the passing years. But as I grow to know and love you more and more, each goodbye is harder than the last.

What a lovely summer we had, this, your 15th year. You are tall, and no longer the skinny kid you used to be. I do believe you may have passed me in height this month! Or it may be an illusion created by your hair. That hair! Oh to have such beautiful locks. You look more like a man, much more, than the small boy who handed us our rings on the beach. And you sound so much like your Dad! Oh, I can still see the boy peek out from behind those blue eyes. But the boy is strong and more confident now. Still shy at times. Only rarely embarrassed, but hardly every showing it. Funny and kind. Goofy and thoughtful. I’mAlware of people's feelings. I can just see your coolness, easy on the surface, while, like every human, a desire to be seen as simply you.  I’m sure teenage boys these days don’t necessarily want to be known as kind and thoughtful, but I hope you know how good and brave those qualities are. Though I don’t ever want to burden my kids with my own sorrows or hardships, there have been times when you have boosted me out of sadness with your sweet and unassuming words. I can see you didn’t want me to feel down. You might remember how during our vacation Olivia had some of her strongest attachment to your Dad ever. On the plane ride home she would literally scream and kick to get away from me and into his arms. It was very hard for me to hide my heartbreak, and you, sweet boy, consoled me, telling me how Olivia loves us both, not to worry. Ah me, what a young man. Thank you. To try to make your crazy step mom feel better. I only hope I can make you feel better about things, anything, silly things, little things, big things, 1000 times over. This year was our 5th familyversary, which I thought befitting of a sappy card for you. You might remember that I wrote about how proud I am of you, how thankful I didn’t get just your dad, but also you when we got married, how lucky Olivia is to have you as a brother. You could easily have just said “thank you” for the beef jerky and treats, but you made a point to tell me you “liked the card, too.” It melted my heart, those simple yet thoughtful words you didn’t have to utter! Thank you.

I’m sure there are twin devils and angels battling for your thoughts and actions sometimes, as is true of most of your friends, most teenagers. And I’m sure sometimes the devil will win. But I’m confident in you, who you are and who you are becoming. The angel wins out. You are a gem. A diamond in the diamond, because really, there is no rough when it comes to you.  I can’t wait to watch the rest of you unfold, maybe at times smooth and graceful like a butterfly, perhaps at times wobbly and unsure like a baby giraffe, but always a wonderful young man we are so proud to call ours.

Saturday night Olivia and I had to say our goodbye’s because you boys had to leave early for the airport. You know usually Olivia doesn't give night-night hugs, so on Saturday night we waved and blew our kisses before bed, like usual. But I was so sad and heavy hearted that after she finished her milk we went back downstairs to say goodnight again and to give you a hug. It was just one of the sweetest moments. While I was rocking her I asked if she wanted to go give you a hug and she said "yes" and nodded. Then we went downstairs and even though I wasn't sure if she would really want to (sometimes still not wanting to be held by people other than mommy and daddy) she went straight into your arms and rested her head on your shoulder and it was just precious beyond words, a picture I hope to have etched on my heart forever. One of many sweet memories of you and your sister from this summer.

It wasn't a summer filled with lots of family activities and fun things every day, but I really hope you’ll have great memories of being here and feel loved and supported. I want to say I’m sorry to you. There are too many things I look back on and wish I wouldn't have said, even in a short 2-month period. Nothing huge, but still, little regrets. Like being too sarcastic with you, or teasing too much, or criticizing too much about video games. I hope I haven’t been overtly mean or rude, but sometimes I think I passively let my insecurities come out as sarcasm toward you, and it makes me feel cruddy. Seemingly little things, like when you read the instructions to your new phone and I said "so you CAN read!" Teasing about the fact that you don’t read much during the summer and play so many video games. Sure, it's all in fun, but it's just not necessary for a step mom to do. I would rather die than think I am making you feel bad about yourself in any way shape or form. I'm sure I am a little too flippant about your mom in some of the things I say, too. When she didn’t send you your glasses and I rolled my eyes in frustration. When I learned you may have to babysit your brothers again this year, possibly preventing you from doing sports again, and I shook my head in disgust. I don’t need to respond in those ways! I should have said something more like  “well that is a bummer, I wish you had your glasses so you could see better” or “I hope something will work out so you can play tennis.” I don't want to put you on the defensive about your mom or even make you think badly of her.  I only hope if you ever felt bad because of something I said or did, you will forgive me. To think my words could have stung you, no matter how unintentionally, to think you may have felt the need to play along or mask your hurt with a smile, breaks my heart.  I only hope you feel equal to Olivia, just as loved and cared for and appreciated. And so I keep learning. We grow. We figure out how to be our best family. I make mistakes. I try again. I take my regrets and turn them around into excitement about your next trip home, the next chance I’ll have to build you up, encourage you and support you for exactly who you are now.

Have a great start of 9th grade, Cade. You are going to be awesome. Just be you. Show others what it means to be kind and thoughtful. Stick up for people. Help people. Meet new kinds of people and welcome them all to the day with your smile.. Pretend Olivia is watching and learning from you :) You already are awesome.

Love,
Terri
 
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PS, you’d better get ready because I’m going to have so many pictures saved up that for a graduation present I might put them all on a quilt for you ;)

2 comments:

Sarah said...

oh my goodness, Terri! how he's grown! Into such a handsome young man. And the letter... wow... you are amazing. Best. Stepmom. Ever! You were thrown in the middle of raising a half-grown boy - and have done a brilliant job. Keep up the good work, lady. I admire you so much!

Cheryl said...

Well written! Brought tears to my eyes more than once.