Fourteen. Seriously? Yes, seriously. Today Michael is 14. I’m finding it difficult to even come up with words to describe how I feel. It’s just so hard to wrap my brain around the fact that it’s been 14 years since my water broke at 2:55 a.m. on May 28. I suspect this post will be all over the place!
Michael Stanfield Reed greeted the world on Thursday, May 28, 1998 at 3:26 p.m. He weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces and was 21-1/2 inches long. (Interestingly, 8 was always my favorite number). Typing his “stats” reminded me that we never got an official baby cup from the Army. Eventually, I will have to remedy that myself. Anyway, Michael was in no hurry to join us, so he had to be “helped” along with pitocin. That wasn’t fun (I’m just saying). He was named for the patron saint of paratroopers, St. Michael. His middle name is his paternal grandmother’s maiden name. At age 14, he’s now 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 135 pounds. He’s a tall, skinny thing … built exactly like my brother Pete was when he was 14 … way back in 1988. I suspect he will keep growing … I predict he’ll reach 6′ 2″ without sneezing, and maybe he’ll even make it to 6′ 4″. I suspect he’ll pass his dad while Chris is away in Afghanistan this coming year. I think it’s funny that at my age I’ve suddenly starting purchasing very high heels. I like to call them my “denial shoes” because I’m in serious denial that he’s taller than I am now.
A true Army Brat, Michael has lived in 8 houses and has attended 7 schools since birth (including pre-schools). His shortest time in one house was Fort Polk — seven weeks. His longest time in one house would be at Fort Benning — 3-1/2 years. He currently counts Colby G., Lucy M., Sam H., Alex and Mark as his friends, three of whom live in a different state than Michael does right now. He has attended St. George’s Camp at Shrinemont (an Episcopal church camp) since 2006. He plays the trumpet in the middle school band and this past fall he ran cross-country for the middle school team and loved it! He hopes to continue running on the high school team this fall. This spring he asked for tennis lessons, so we signed him up for 8 weeks of lessons.
Michael loves computers. For Christmas last year we game him money to build his own computer, which is exactly what he did. It took about four months, but he finally got it up and running. I love the way he researched everything so thoroughly. He read books, magazines and websites. He figured out the whole thing himself, and ordered all the parts on-line. He was so serious about it too … wearing a protective mask and gloves while he put it together (wish I had a picture of that!). Michael still loves to play his Nintendo DS. He also loves his iPod and just recently reached the memory limit on his iPod. I suspect an iPod with more memory space will be on his Christmas list. When I think about it, I guess I love that he likes music so much, but he’s currently all about the group “They Might Be Giants” and he also likes a group called “Dead Mouse”. (I would have to agree … all mice should be dead). He loves to play computer games. He’s particularly fond of games on Steam and is always looking for ways to add money to his Steam Wallet. (Steam is a leading platform for the delivery and management of PC and Mac games with over 40 million accounts). He also loves a game called Minecraft and another game called Halo. His room is usually quite messy, especially his desk. I remember when my brother Pete was at camp during the summer … my mom and I would go in and clean out his room, cleaning out from under his bed, in his closet and all the bookshelves. I remember throwing lots of stuff out too. I haven’t cleaned out his room since the summer of 2009, so I suspect his room will get cleaned out this summer while he’s at camp or in England with the J2A (Journey to Adulthood) from Grace Church. He likes TV shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and “Crank Yankers” (although I won’t let him watch it) and “Futurama” and “Family Guy”. I still roll my eyes when I think about the fact that we actually let him watch Family Guy. It doesn’t exactly set a good example for a 14-year old boy. Yeah, we’re bad parents and we’re going to hell. He has expressed an interest in the Coast Guard, but at 14 I’m still not sure how serious he is about it yet. He does understand that the Reed family has a very long tradition of service and he knows that he’s expected to serve his country in some capacity when he grows up, even if it’s just for a three year enlistment. We will not push him into service, to enlist or to attend one of the service academies. I think Michael understands that at some point he’s expected to serve, and we’ll let him decide how. (But I won’t lie … I would love it if he went to West Point, but honestly, he just doesn’t seem the West Point type, and that’s okay. He’s got too much of his mama in him anyway).
It’s getting harder and harder for me to remember what he was like as a little boy. Thank heavens for the thousands upon thousands of photos I’ve taken in the last 14 years. I deeply regret that we have no photos whatsoever of his birth. Chris had the camera, but wasn’t really thinking about taking pictures. We barely have any photos in the delivery room for that matter, and even fewer of him in the hospital. When he was little (from about age 3 to about age 8), I remember that he was almost always happy, he was very energetic, always curious, very kind, so very sweet and had a pure heart. I really hate the fact that “real life” eventually intervened and he learned that not everyone was his friend. Can third grade really be that long ago? He is still very kind. His manners are impeccable. People tell me all the time how polite he is. I find myself taking photos of him now with an eye toward his senior year in high school. I can already see the photo montage that we’ll show at his graduation party. And how I’ll cry all the way through it. Good grief, I can’t even think about it now without getting teary-eyed. I even know what music I’d like for the video. How’s that for planning ahead?
Michael has brought me immeasurable joy these past 14 years. He makes me laugh (OH how can he make me laugh!), he makes me smile, he lifts my spirits and makes them soar, and he likes to take care of me. Even now, when I am not feeling well or if I’m sleeping late, Michael will tiptoe into the bedroom and gently lay his blankie next to my face. I remember the first time he did that — shared his precious blankie. He melted my heart when he did it the first time … and my heart continues to melt every time he’s done it since. Even at 14, I love that he still has his blankie. (Of course, it’s his third blankie, made by my dear friend Genie Stepanek, because his first two blankies — that actually belonged to me as a child — were loved to shreds). Michael got me through Chris’ year in Korea. He still says, “I love you”. He still gives hugs. Although the days of “free spanks” and “naked baby” are over, sometimes he still needs his mom and I love that. I love it. Sometimes he’ll still try and snuggle with me on the couch. I remember so well when he used to fit into my arms. And I miss those days tremendously. Oh God, how I miss them.
It’s going so, SO fast. I would give anything to slow down time. I wasn’t prepared for how fast it was going to go. Michael starts high school this fall. I absolutely cannot believe I just typed that last sentence. High School. HIGH SCHOOL!!!! How can my son be old enough for high school? I remember starting high school. Vividly. I remember so much from my high school days that it’s difficult to fathom that I now have a child old enough for high school. Oh my goodness. I’m out of words.
I love him so much. My breath catches in my throat when I think about it. Never in a million years did I think I could love someone as much as I love Michael. My love for this beautiful child is completely consuming. He is nothing short of amazing.
Happy Birthday Michael! Love you more!