This is why I love you – a birthday message to my son

I used to be an avid scrapbooker, not only cropping photos into an artful arrangement, but also journaling about my growing children and documenting their early years.

My scrapbook supplies have been gathering dust for years now, and sometimes I feel guilty about no longer capturing those moments in time. There are little things I journaled that I would have forgotten otherwise, but I haven’t done that in years. Yet there is so much I want to remember, and I get especially reflective in August, the month both of my children were born.

So today, on the eve of my youngest child’s 12th birthday, I am writing so I don’t forget. I’ve been trying for days now, but I can’t get the words right. They just aren’t enough, and they seem trite and forced. But they are the tool I have to help me remember, so they will have to do.

you can never have too many reasons for loving someone

Your sister grew from a little girl to a young woman while I was blinking, so I am acutely aware of how ruthless time can be. It won’t wait until I’m ready, so with every hug I squeeze a little tighter and hold on a little longer. I want to remember what it’s like to hug your slim frame – all bone and muscle -because too soon it will grow up and out, and I will be hugging a boy-man.

For now, there is still room for both of us to lie in your twin bed every night and chat before you go to sleep. For now, I can pick up all eighty pounds of you when we are horsing around. For now, you still call me Mommy sometimes, you will still hold my hand, and you say “I love you” freely and without a hint of self consciousness.

And I tell you that I love you multiple times a day.  I know you know that I do. But do you know why? Do you know why you are so easy to love, and why you are an extraordinary person? There are so many reasons, but I’ll tell you a few.

You have a wonderful sense of humor. Witty, dry, sarcastic or silly, your clever retorts are quick and impressive.

You are exuberant. You wake up every day ready for whatever awaits you, and you are rarely in a bad mood. I know this may change as you enter your teen years, but I hope you continue to approach life in a glass-half-full kind of way. It’s contagious.

You are kind. You’re just a nice kid. You treat others with respect and courtesy, whether they are friends, acquaintances, or strangers.

You are easy going. You’re my go-with-the-flow kid, and for a mom who is not so go-with-the-flow, it’s a breath of fresh air.

You are comfortable in your own skin. You like being you, and you enjoy your own company.

You are a dreamer. You have so many plans for the future – the car you want, the college you’ll attend, the career you’ll pursue, the things you want to accomplish. You place no limits on the possibilities, which is how it should be.

For all these reasons and a million more, I love you. I loved you the second you were born, and I love you at twelve, and I will love you forever.

me and my boy

Today, when you tell someone you love them, tell them why. It’s one of the best gifts you can give.
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  1. says

    Happy Birthday to your son, Dana and what a beautiful tribute to him here. I was practically crying reading and could very much feel your love in all your words. Gorgeous picture of the two of you, too!! :)

  2. says

    Wow. He is one lucky boy. I love the pic of the two of you. And I think your letter to him is fantastic, not trite or forced at all. I hope you print it and tape it someplace in your home so when he is that teen you want to throttle you remember that underneath that teen crap is a pretty awesome boy.

    Oh, and I just have to wonder where he got his sense of humor from :)

    • says

      I told him last night that he had to read my blog today because it was about him. But printing it out is a good idea, Kerri. And I’d like to think he gets some of his sense of humor from me – the witty part, anyway. The silly part is from Matt. 😉

  3. says

    It’s gorgeous, and he is gorgeous. You can seriously see all of his wonderful qualities right there on his face. Beautiful, beautiful. It makes me want to wake up my younger and give him a million hugs and a million “I love yous” right now, but he has a teething fever so I will wait. I do have time, but certainly not as much as I think.
    And it makes my heart both break and feel whole to think about what he will become. Both of my kids are dreamers already. Both of their parents are too.

    • says

      You are so right, Tamara – raising our children makes our heart break and feel whole – to nurture them and let them go. I know you are a dreamer by your writing – that’s a wonderful gift to give your babies. Hope D feels better soon!

  4. Mike DanasDad says

    I love my wife and two daughters for so many reasons.
    I love you, Dana, because of what you write about family, and because you write so well.
    I think you know that Mom and I have had, and still have, similar feelings about you and your sister. We just started feeling that way one generation earlier.
    Happy birthday, James.

    • says

      I know and I love you too (and you made me cry a little). And your grandchildren know as well. Just ask them “Who loves you?” and you know what they’ll say. Grandpa.

  5. Karen says

    Dana, I loved this blog entry, celebrating James’ birthday, but Mike’s comments reduced me to tears. I feel very fortunate to have had a front row seat to your family for the past 25 years. The love is palpable.

    • says

      What a first time comment from Dad, right? And then J comments for the first time too. I’m so glad you’ve been part of our family for 25 (jeez!) years!

  6. Lynne says

    Oh boy! This blog was not a teary-eyed one for me – it was a full-blown two tissue one! Heartfelt and beautifully written. I do agree with what Mike said and must add that you and Matt are blessed with two beautiful, compassionate, and sweet children. Happy 12th birthday James!

    • says

      Thank you Mom – I’m getting lots of friend and family comments today! Just have some tissues ready when I write a post for Gwen’s birthday :)

  7. says

    This is the most beautiful message!! I love all the great things you listed about your son!! Maybe he doesn’t fully appreciate this today but one day it will be priceless to him!
    And – love the picture of y’all together!!!

    • says

      Thanks Kim – I think he appreciated it (he commented for the first time), but you’re right – I think he will appreciate it more when he’s a dad himself.

  8. says

    Dana, this post was so touching. It’s all too real how fast they grow up. Bigs will be 2 in just a few days and I don’t where they time has gone. Next, he’ll be a teenager. I appreciated your honest vulnerability in this post on the love between a mother and her children!

    • says

      Our babies grow so quickly, don’t they? Thanks for your sweet words – I’m glad you enjoyed my declaration of love :)

    • says

      So true, Lisa. August is such a month of reflection for me – both birthdays and the start of a new school year makes me want to freeze time – it goes by too fast!

  9. Amy Kluckhuhn says


    I love this. I try to remind myself everyday to tell the kids at least one reason why I love them. Unfortunately, when we are busy I can sometimes forget. This is a great way to celebrate him!!



  10. says

    Happy Birthday to your son…that tribute made me sob…I can’t stop crying babe. I hope that my relationship with Dino is just as wonderful when he is twelve.

  11. says

    Now that’s a dynamic duo. Sounds like a very together young man – I hope he achieves every one of his dreams and more. Happy Birthday Wishes and good vibes coming at you both from Old Cape Cod.

  12. says

    So beautiful. These are words your son will treasure forever.
    I have a friend who writes a birthday letter to his kids every year. What a sweet compilation of love and encouragement from a parent!
    Found you via LOBS.

    • says

      Thank you Kim – I do think he really appreciate the post, but it’s hard to tell with a 12 year old :) My daughter’s bday is in two weeks – gotta start that post soon! Thanks for visiting!

  13. says

    I love EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. of this post. Happy, happy birthday to your son. I feel like preteen boys get a bad rap these days. They have their moments, to be sure, but they are also insanely wonderful. Your son sounds like a fantastic young man. I know he will love reading your wonderful tribute. –Lisa

  14. says

    I love every word of this and I am in tears. Thank you for sharing your heart with us and your wonderful son with us.

  15. says

    Dana. Thanks for the tears. This is absolutely beautiful and an amazing tribute to your amazing son. What a cool kid you’re raising. Love the photo of the two of you at the end, too. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JAMES!

    PS – I’ve done a bad job of keeping scrapbooks up ever since I started to blog. I console myself that blogging is sortof a scrapbook…but I still have 2 empty ones sitting at my feet that I’d like to complete because the junk that is sitting next to them (pages, cut-outs, etc) was really cool back when I bought it!

    • says

      I’ll give him your birthday wishes, Kristi – thanks! And I totally consider blogging my new scrapbook – takes a lot more time but I’m saving trees, right?