Dear McKay,

Today, at 12:33 a.m., you marked your twelfth year in my life. You have been lamenting all week, impatiently waiting for your birthday to arrive. I sarcastically commented each day that had you been born remotely on-time like you were supposed to have done, you'd have already had your birthday.

To which you laughed, smiled sheepishly, and said, "Geez, Mom. I couldn't help it."

You'd think after 12 years together, I'd have forgiven you for being a week late.

But I couldn't help it, you see. I had waited four long years to even have a glimmer of you in my life, and another few days just seemed like torture. I was so ready to meet you, and hold you, and have you in my arms.

You changed me forever, Mack.

You made me a mama.

I was digging through scrapbooks this morning to find old pictures of you, and seeing some of the ones from your toddler days reminded me of what it was like to get you dressed in the morning. You were such a wiggly little thing. It was as though I was asking too much for you to sit still a whole three minutes and put on a shirt. Because those dump trucks, and books, and balls? They just weren't going to throw themselves, you know.

But one day, as we were having our daily wrestling match, I noticed you watching me. You didn't fight or wiggle this time. Your wide, blue eyes just stared at me - taking in my every feature as though you were seeing me for the first time. And then suddenly, and without warning, you threw your arms around my neck and held on tight. Your soft, dimpled elbows wrapped around me, and tears filled my eyes as it hit me.

You loved me.

You know what, kid? I still see that love today. I see it in your easygoing nature. I see it when you cheerfully do your homework and practice your trumpet without having to be told. I see it when you sigh and resign yourself to a game with Hannah, even though you'd much rather do something else. I see it when you let your brother have the bigger half of a treat you brought home in the first place.

You simply emanate love. You open your little heart wide and love everyone around you. It is impossible to resist. You make it so easy to love you back.

So, this morning, when your father pulled that big green gun-shaped case out of the closet, your squeals of glee left us no doubt as to your feelings on the matter. Against my better judgment, I let him buy you a big, scary weapon. Because I know that you are trustworthy. I know that you are responsible. And I know you'll always do the right thing.

Plus, I'm pretty sure this makes us even for any embarrassing stuff I may happen to do in the next five or six years.

Happy birthday, darling boyo. I love you more than you will ever know. Thank you for sharing a little bit of heaven with me. And if it's not too much trouble, could you make the next 12 years go by just a little bit slower?