In the early morning confines of a closed room with sleepy, growing children, there’s a certain sadness that washes over me, momentarily, as I creak open the door. Gone are the days of midnight feedings and diaper changes, of swaddling and pajamas with feet. Of wide eyes, and bedtime questions, and CD players rolling out classical music as they slumber. They are old enough to brush their own teeth, walk themselves to bed, and complain about going to school. When I drop them off and arrive at my office, there’s this overwhelming ache in my heart to get back in my car, drive back and gather everyone.
But they are growing, and so am I.
Time is passing so quickly that sometimes a hug and a kiss aren’t enough. Sometimes it is the words that you leave them with that they need more. I can no longer carry them, so when they climb out of bed in the mornings, I give them a kiss and a hug, and I simply say:
I love you, God loves you, and I am already proud of you today.
I am already proud of you today, as soon as you opened your eyes. With your unbrushed hair and warm, soft cheeks. As you drag your blanket, wrapped as a robe, down the dim hallway for breakfast. I am already proud of you, even when you make a mistake, a poor grade on a test, argue about what to wear, or how you hate leftovers. I am already proud of you because you are YOU. I am already proud of you because you are trying, because life is hard, because we are doing our best. I am already proud of you because you are growing to greatness. I am already proud of you because of that new kid in class. He has a friend because of you. You are fierce and you are bold. You stand up for what you believe in and you never back down. That’s a lot of strength for such a tiny one. But you are stronger than most adults I know.
I tell you I am already proud of you today when you hop out of the car and walk into the middle school; middle school is so uncertain. I know you don’t have a test or a quiz today. That’s not why I am already proud of you. I am already proud of you today because I know you, and you will take the opportunity to make others feel valued, when they feel alone. You will share concession money with kids that have none. You will tell someone they look pretty today, when they hear such few compliments. I am proud of you because while other girls gossip, you encourage and you cheer others on. You love and you don’t care who knows it. You are smart, so smart. And not just academically. You know the right way to go and you follow that path. I am already proud of you today, because you will, undoubtedly, make someone’s day brighter just by being in it.
I am already proud of you today because you are the wisest man I know. You quietly observe a need and fill it. You pray, pray so hard, for people that you know and those whom you’ve never met. You settle disputes, you seek out the quiet ones and make sure they have an extra special Valentine. I am already proud of you today because you are going to do big things in life, huge things, and you don’t even see how incredibly gifted and special you are. You are my champion and on the days when I just don’t feel like I can put one foot in front of the other, you make me feel like I am the greatest mother that’s ever walked. You have a way of loving and seeing and knowing others in such a unique way. I am already proud of you today, and so proud to even have the chance to call you my child.