Daniel, my middle child, my analytical clown...my super-thoughtful, super-sensitive, super-balanced son... turns 22 today.
Twenty-two? Huh? Isn't he still just my little boy, playing out an intricate action adventure with his monster trucks in the living room (Watch me, Mama! Watch me!) The truth is, yes, in my heart he will always be that little blue-eyed boy in the denim jacket, Mario Brothers hat and black bike gloves, the one with the huge imagination and sweet heart, no matter how old he gets.
But I spent the last weekend with him and I have to testify that he is, indeed, also a 22-year-old, discussing current events, drinking beer, and facing his future head on. By this time next year... his 23rd birthday... Daniel will have graduated from college and found a job he enjoys (God willing!)
Being the middle child in a family is a tough job, such a balancing act, but Daniel could be the poster child for middles everywhere. He has always been the glue in the family, always trying to bring the sparring factors together, always trying to make everyone laugh. He's the peacemaker I would love to be.
He's a wise soul, never in a hurry to grow up, but letting life set its own pace - he realized the preciousness of childhood and has held on to the best parts of it, even as he took on the responsibilities that came with adulthood - paychecks, rent, groceries, classes. He has a sweet spirit, caring and giving and thoughtful... very thoughtful. My philosopher who can see what others can't.
At the same time, he's one of the funnest and funniest people I know, and I've missed having him around this past year. But as his mother, I have to be proud, have to let go, have to let him fly... and just hope he comes around every now and then to watch the latest silly movie with me.
I won't be seeing him today... he has to work, or has a late class, or something. I could go check his schedule to see which it is that's keeping me from being able to celebrate my baby's birthday with him in person... I have it stuck to the fridge with a magnet... but it doesn't really matter, does it? This is what happens when they grow up - you just have to get flexible.
So we'll celebrate this weekend at one of his favorite restaurants, True Grits... and I'll make him his favorite dessert, Cyclops Cookies... and maybe we'll have time to watch something we think is funny but Tom doesn't.
At the very least, today I can wish my sweet son a happy 22nd birthday here on my blog... and for walks down memory lane, all I have to do is click on the posts from his last two birthdays, here and here - they're full of photos of him across the years, proof to me that it has, indeed, been 22 wonderful, wonderful years.
Happy birthday, Daniel!!
I also want to send out happy birthday wishes to Kim, my sweet Montana sister-in-law... Pete, my inspirational blogging friend... and young cousins Ashley and Kayce. Also an early happy Birth Day to Tayvie, Kayce's firstborn, who should be arriving in this world any minute now!