A 12-Year Journey: A Letter To My Son On His Birthday

Jennifer Bonessi

Jennifer Bonessi

Dear Boy,

On this night 12 years ago, I was several hours into laboring with you. I was alone in my apartment, but in just one hour, I would have enough of the relentless waves of discomfort and call your father to ask him to drive me to the hospital. And not long after, if 12 more hours isn’t long, life would change forever.

With your birth, our family would be born.

Because you are the only one who has been with me since the beginning of our family, a family that started with just a mother and her son, sometimes I look at you and am overcome by the journey we’ve been walking together.

From the moment you made me a mother, you have been here for every moment of our family’s development.

Our family grew with the joyful coming of one stepfather when you were 1, learned with the birth of a half-sister when you were 3, and lost with the sorrow of the complete breaking of that little family when you were 5.

It renewed in the healing of a quiet, single-parent home, and like a child itself, it grew and learned again with the whirlwind arrival of a God-given stepfather when you were 7 and of another half-sister when you were 11—for the family of five we have now.

While our family today is my greatest achievement and each of my children my dearest prize, our route to this point was the result of so many detours.

If I could have chosen a different path for you, I would have in an instant. The road I would have set you out on would have been paved with gold and light and joy. And because life happens, even on the most glorious of travels, I would have sent you with a shield, prepared you with a suit of fine armor, and imparted to you all of life’s necessary wisdom.

I would have prayed a blessing for your every step.

But here we are.

Our 12-year journey has been largely rough and ugly, and I have been ill-prepared, blocking the blows of life with my own tired body and grasping for straws of wisdom as they blew by.

I prayed that I might be strong enough to carry you.

But in the hours before your birthday, looking back on the road we’ve walked from perhaps a higher place, I have a different perspective.

For so much of this trip, I thought I was protecting you, and though in my efforts that may have been true, I see now that we have been trudging along down this road—12-years long—together.

Neither of us was ready for this trip. We both bore every blow. And the bits of wisdom I thought blew by? You watched them go too. You’ve watched a lot.

Like the changing of our family, you’ve watched me grow and learn. And though I am your mother, in many ways, we’ve grown and learned and lost and renewed and grown and learned again together.

I know you’ll be 12 tomorrow, and that with each step into your future, you will grow stronger and learn more. You’ve already picked up your own shield and prepared your own armor. And I see wisdom clinging to you everywhere.

The road ahead is bright, and be it 12 hours or 12 years out, I know abundant blessings wait for you along the way.

Thank you for being my son, for helping me start our family and for walking out this journey with the four of us. I’m in awe of this life we are living together and humbled by what you bring to it.


Mom (and Your Family)