Dear Whit,

Today you are seven.  I have loved every age you’ve ever been – that’s really the truth; for example,  I will never be able to adequately express to you the way that your infancy healed so many broken things inside of me.  But right now, you are particularly divine.  You are growing fast but you are still, for now at least, a little boy: you instinctively take my hand when you’re walking next to me, you embrace the world without guile or preconceptions, you tell me daily and sincerely that you love me, you unabashedly adore LEGOs, robots, coloring, and Tin Tin, and you throw your arms around my neck for a full-body hug before bed.

You have a close circle of friends and I’m very proud that they are all very nice kids.  It’s a pleasure to watch you interacting.  Recently I drove you and a friend to a birthday party, and listened to you talking.  You were talking about covering yourself with mud in the Dead Sea, and you realized your friend had seen the photos because his mother is a friend of mine.  “Oh, I need to make sure you know,” you told him earnestly, “I am wearing those pink shorts because I only have girl cousins on my mother’s side and we forgot bathing suits.”  Your friend looked at you like you were crazy.  “So I had to borrow something from one of my girl cousins.”

“Oh, I thought the shorts were cool,” your friend averred, winning my loyalty for the rest of his days.  “Oh, good.”  I could hear you relax.  “Yeah.  I liked them.”  I glanced in the rearview to see you both nodding.  “There’s no such thing as girl colors and boy colors, you know,” you went on.  Your friend agreed, and you went on to declare purple your “second favorite” color.

Though you have an extensive vocabulary, often surprising us with words we had no idea you knew, there are still times I field “what does that mean?” questions.  For example, you recently asked “what is a dork?”  I fumbled a bit, starting with “Well, it’s not really a nice thing to say, kind of a way of saying someone is not really fun.”  You looked confused.  “Well, I’m kind of a dork, too.”  I finished lamely.

“That is not true, Mummy,” you looked at me, shaking your head.  “you are so fun.”

Oh, my little man.  I know you won’t always think this, and I’m trying to really drink in these days that you do.

Your natural state is one of exuberance.  You burst, blond and laughing, into each morning, climbing out of the top bunk where you sleep clutching your monkey, whose name is Beloved. Despite your energy and enthusiasm towards almost everything, you are often cautious and don’t like to do things until you know you can.  I asked Grace what her favorite story about you this year was and she mentioned Storyland.  On our third visit, our second year, you finally agreed to try one of the rides.  On the log ride you sat in front of me, clutching my hands with white knuckles.  After we came down the flume, water splashing all around us, I asked you cautiously what you thought.  I was worried that you’d hated it.  Instead, you turned back to me, your face absolutely lit up.  “Mummy!  At the top of the ride my tummy was full of butterflies!”  That moment was Grace’s favorite of the year, and I admit it was up there for me too.  After that seminal ride you went on almost everything at Storyland, and at Legoland too.

You love hockey and golf, both passions you share with your Dad, and watching the two of you pursue them makes me smile so hard my heart hurts a little.  After a summer in which I worried that you would never read, you are suddenly devouring chapter books, and, most importantly to me, enjoying reading.

Your body is growing angular, your limbs long, and curling into my lap is getting harder and harder.  The scar from your terrifying second anaphylactic reaction has faded from an angry red gash to a flesh-colored one that glints when light hits it, and the Christmas Eve scar right above your eye is fading also.  In the summer your hair is white-blond, and your eyes remain their startling, genetically-surprising blue.

You are the funniest person I know.  Your sense of humor made itself clear early on, but it has blossomed this year.  You make everyone laugh, and it’s the first characteristic that most people notice about you.  More than once people have asked me if I named my children the traits I wanted them to have (grace and wit).  Um, no.  Despite your hilarious bravado, and your little-man swagger (one of your new favorite words), there’s a seam of deep sensitivity that runs through you whose source I think we all know.  You’ve can be hugely sentimental and are aware of loss in a way far more mature than your years.

You’re growing fast, my beloved boy, my first son, my last baby.  You are losing teeth and gaining skills with every passing week.  This summer was full of milestones; I called it the summer of letting go and I was specifically talking about you.  You enlarge my life and bring me more joy and love than I ever thought possible.  You are the drumbeat of my life, and as much as your steady, noisy rhythm sometimes overwhelms me, I beg you never to stop it.  I will never forget the moment that you were born, on a freezing cold Thursday at 3am, after an intense labor that I experienced mostly alone and will always remember as some of the most luminous, empowered hours of my life.  You were blond and blue-eyed and you were, most shockingly of all, a boy.

And thank you, dear universe, for bringing such a marvelous, intractable, delightful, delicious child into my life.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Whit, for all that you are.

I love you.  Now and always.

The letters on your other birthdays: six, five, four, three, two

17 thoughts on “Seven”

  1. thank you for sharing this intimate letter of love. happy birthday, whit and happy mother’s day to you. wishing you a wondrous weekend of celebration.

  2. Such a heartfelt letter, Lindsey. You inspire me to do the same next September 7. I never made the connection of “grace” and “whit,” but it get me thinking about Abra’s name, which — totally by coincidence — happens to mean “open” in Spanish. Happy Birthday! Seven is a great age, as you already know.

  3. “my beloved boy, my first son, my last baby” – these words of course resonate with me deeply. Who could have thought I, surrounded by women my entire life, could love a little boy so? Holding yours in his first hours on that bitterly bitterly cold day was what I held to when I questioned this. And what a boy he has become! Hope you have a fantastic day filled with cake and laughter. Lots of love!!

  4. *Tears*

    That conversation over dork has me laughing (b/c it sounds like me) and awwwing over his incredible sweetness.

    Happy birthday, Whit, may you continue to make us all laugh.

  5. So, so lovely, and half of it could be about my son and my love for him. Thank you for writing something so intimate and personal, that still contains so many of the universal mysteries and joys of this big, wide world. And, OH, is he a beautiful boy!!! (We are allowed to admire our children for their beauty. We are, we are, we are.)

  6. Happy birthday to your magnificent boy, Lindsey!

    Your words here capture everything I treasure about you as a writer and a mother. I am moved and inspired by the way you’ve taken time to reflect on the big and little things that make Whit who he is.

    May he and you enjoy a year of health and happiness. xo

  7. Oh SEVEN! What a gorgeous evocation of your marvelous boy. As I sit here in the midst of ongoing negotiations with my own younger one (19!) about the pros and cons of a spring break road trip to Montreal with his buddies, I find myself longing for 7, when I was still fun and a good time was a trip to the ice cream shop, instead of a city five hours away where the legal drinking age is 18. Savor the moment! (I know you do!)

  8. Your odes to your family members are always so moving. Thank you for sharing such personal stories. Your children will no doubt treasure these posts when they are older – what a gift!

  9. Oh Lindsey. 7. My finger, as I started to type, tentatively paused above the number 7. Because i think of H and Whit as being roughly the same age.

    Your words are stunning; I can imagine Whit reading them again and again through different machinations of his life. My favorite part of this letter is the conversation you captured between Whit and his buddy about the pink shorts. That particular tidbit brought me to tears.


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