Dear Tolliver,

Happy birthday!
Your arrival - late November, right as the holidays ramped up - was the best gift to our family.
Red hair like a warning label, eyes chocolate box beautiful, we felt so lucky to meet you.
I swear I'm trying not to recycle phrases from every past birthday, but we love you so much buddy, and I don't know how else to say it.

I am eternally grateful for the little infinities I spent with you as an infant, the sky drained of color, the rest of the world asleep, you curled in the crook of my arm.

Somehow hours turned to liquid and melted into days and here we are, eight years in.
I still wake up every morning wanting to be your best mom.

You are so big now! You are super fast on your feet. A neighbor, who is also a track coach, has already tried to recruit you. I stand behind, feeling the wind, watching. Pretending my heart's not beating away, somewhere else, inside your far ahead chest. I feel like this out-of-body sensation is only just the begining.

Sometimes you are still small. Sensitive and insecure. Vulnerability is not necessarily a weakness. It's okay to be big and small.

You have a dazzling, scarlet smile. And you know SO MUCH about Buckeye football. Also about pangolins. I'd never even heard of them, but apparently their tongues begin at their pelvis?

You are constantly teaching me things.
And your life is often providing me amusement. You are infinitely creative, impossibly energetic, endlessly curious, perpetually annoyed. Sometimes I think if I don't laugh I might cry.

There are times when we trade words like Pokemon cards - animated and passionate, rushed and thoughtless.
There are times when what you say pierces my composure. I'm sorry.

Other adults comment about your conversation skills -- you are really good at the game our church friend plays, "Tell me something I don't know." And you ask provocative questions, whether to the person cutting your hair or the visiting great aunt. People notice this, the way you make eye contact and lean in to listen with your whole body.

You are stubborn, with stamina to spare. The story of your age three 'umbrella versus front porch flowers' is family lore. To this day I don’t quite understand how your dad held firm. I do know he happened to be carrying a solo cup of bourbon as he stepped out the door to discover the carnage.
Perseverance is important.

Whatever your shortcomings, I hope you know there's nothing you can't do .
Whatever my shortcomings, I hope you know how much I cherish you.

I love you from the top and the middle and the bottom of my heart. Forever.


Poppy John said...

You are the BEST middle brother EVER!

Poppy John
& Poppy Mom

Susan Kadlac said...

Happy Birthday Tolliver!! You are going to have another exciting, adventurous year ahead.
For some reason I remember that post regarding "umbrella vs flowers." I admired how Andy held firm, perhaps assisted in some way by the bourbon? I really think it is your great joined powers of parenting that are helping all of your boys become wonderful people!
Happy Thanksgiving to your family.

rht said...

Happy Birthday, Tols! You are so much your own person, and I love every bit of you.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday. What no suit.