This year I want to do something a little different for your birthday letter. No worries, I’ll still get around to bragging about how smart you are, how tall you’ve gotten, and how all the girls in the first grade swoon over you. But I first want to share with you a story about how important you are to me. You were born into our family and with you came so much happiness and so much light it was actually tangible Keaton. The impact you had/have on our family could move mountains.
I’m a different mom to you than I am to your brothers. There is a reason for this. It’s not that I love your brothers any less or you any more. It’s that you were born during a hard time for our family. Gavin had just been diagnosed with autism when you weren’t even a year old. Before he was even diagnosed we knew he was delayed and spent a lot of time worrying and wondering about him. The sadness of realizing that Gavin wasn’t normal was so hard on me and your Daddy. On top of Gavin’s therapies, treatments, and our depression, we still had you, this little baby to take care of. I worried that we did you a great disservice bringing you into a family that wasn’t functioning. I was so overwhelmed and ill prepared for having two kids so close in age, especially when one of them was disabled. You were so sweet Keaton and I felt so guilty all the time and worried that I wasn’t a good enough mother for either of you. My faith in god had been shaken. It was honestly the hardest time in my life.
One evening, shortly after your first birthday, you were laying on me asleep in the rocking chair, you hadn’t been feeling well. The entire day had been so difficult for me. You had thrown up and had a fever. You were clingy all day and wanted me to carry you everywhere I went. Gavin seemed lost in his own little world even more so that day and my stomach ached wondering if he’d ever be in mine. That night I was holding you and rocking you to sleep. I remember this night so clearly. I can remember so vividly how your sweaty head felt against my chest. How you were only wearing a diaper and little socks with monkeys on them. How peaceful you were. Your breathing was so even and your little cheeks were so perfectly pink. I sat there in the dark with you laying there on me.
Out of nowhere I just felt so compelled to pray Keaton. This was odd because I had been so mad at God for so long, but in that moment I felt hopeless and I just needed guidance. So I did. I prayed long and hard until hot tears ran down my face and fell onto your soft blond head. I asked God to just send me a sign that Gavin would be okay, to send me a sign that I would survive this, that our family would. I was too weighed down by all that life had thrown at me to be the kind of mother you needed, that Gavin needed. I needed a sign that I could do this. I needed hope. I needed strength. I needed something, anything.
In that moment I looked down at you and it’s as if God whispered in my ear “Here he is. Here is your sign. Here is your strength.” It took me a few years to understand this Keaton, to understand that you were the answer to my prayer. The depth of what that means to me you will never fully grasp. You were the miracle all along. You brought life into Gavin. You were his voice when he had none. You were his playmate when no one else was. You are his constant companion. You see him unlike no one in the world sees him, including me. You’re bond is unlike any other. We always refer to you both as two parts of one whole. You made him whole Keaton. Through you he understands empathy, sympathy, and how to use his imagination. You were more therapeutic than anything else for Gavin.
You also made me a better person Keaton. You made me see that I could achieve at this mothering gig. You have always been so forgiving of my mistake. I’m an imperfect person and you have always looked past that. You are the glue that holds this entire family together and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. You restored my faith that God is good always and no matter what. The impact you have had on my life in only seven years is nothing short of extraordinary. Now as we start walking down another uncertain path with your brother Ollie, I have more understanding about why you are his big brother. Why he was sent to our family too.
It’s no accident that I felt inspired to have you so close in age to your brother. People thought we were crazy to have you two 18 months apart. Now I can see the bigger picture. Your life has so much meaning Keaton. You came to this family to be the ultimate example to us all. You are full of more delight than any person I’ve ever known. You are heaven here on earth and proof that God gives us exactly what we need.
Now, with all that mushy stuff out of the way I’d love to tell you what this year has been like. Firstly I have to brag about what a smarty pants you are. You started first grade this year and you think that Mrs. Powell, your teacher, hung the moon. You are top of your class in reading and in math, which is no surprise because you try so hard at everything you do. You were also the only one to get above grade level in punctuation, which I think is definitely noteworthy. You are reading chapter books now. You really like the Magic tree house books, and have the most beautiful handwriting I’ve ever seen (especially for a lefty).
You played T-Ball this year and loved it. You started gymnastics and learned to do a front flip on the trampoline which always scares the living daylights out of me. Your biggest passion is legos! You and Gavin have been taking a Lego art and engineering class this year and have loved every minute of it. You cry every time we come to pick you up. We usually have to drag you out and threaten you with not coming back to coax you into the car. You are constantly building and creating. You are obsessed with minecraft and you and Gavin share a computer desk and sit side by side playing together. Every day I get to hear the funny conversations the two of you share.
You are a sensitive kid. You notice things others don’t, and you make connections that make my jaw hit the floor at least once a week. You are fabulous at making friends. As a way to encourage you to write, your teacher allows you and your classmates to pass notes to each other. Every day I pull out a note or two from your classmates saying how much they like you and how great of a friend you are. I see what a great friend you are to Gavin. He is so lucky to have you as his best brother. Your relationship makes me miss my sister Kara. You two are a lot like we were as kids. I love to hear the things you come up with together. I love that you stay up late laughing and talking. Your relationship is beyond words. You are also such a fun brother for Ollie. He loves his “Tee-Ton”. His eyes light up when he sees you and he follows you around like a lost puppy. I wonder if you know the impact you have on people yet? You have already changed the world Keaton.
Keaton you are soft spoken and mild mannered. You are sentimental just like I am. We are both hoarders of memories. Tonight we spent an hour going through your memory box that is filled with all your baby stuff. You hate to be teased, but don’t mind dishing it out, especially to Gavin. You are the great protector when it comes to your brothers. You are so many things wrapped up into a perfect little boy. Quiet, sneaky, beautiful, peaceful, clever, silly, cuddly, sweet, and wonderful.
These seven years have been the happiest of my life. You were born and with you came so much happiness my heart swells to think of it. Your smiles help me stay afloat and your tears break my heart. I feel so lucky and grateful to be your mother, and I celebrate this every single day. I love you so much. You are one of my favorite things in the whole world. I’m so glad God gave us you, our miracle. Happy 7th birthday TT Beck.