Dear Rader #19

Dear Rader,

Today is your 19th birthday. I like to write you and your brother a letter every year, and this one will be no exception.

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I’m incredibly proud of you and your brother. Y’all have weathered some emotional turmoil this year, and even though you both have a little internal bruising, you are stronger for it.

You just finished your first semester in college. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to fathom you’re a grown-ass man. You worked your tail off earning ALL THE SCHOLARSHIPS to pay for college. You worked your tail off earning money¬†to help pay for your trip abroad, your trip to Puerto Rico, and to buy yourself a car. I know adults who don’t have the work ethic you have now. It’s amazing to see you take control of your life, set goals, and work like a junkyard dog to achieve them.

You’ve always been my little individualist and it makes me proud that you’ve had a self-awareness well beyond your age. I’d love to take credit for helping you with that, but I think that you were just born with it. You weren’t a “normal” baby (as if there is such a thing.) You were always so independent, so curious, so willing to ask questions and make jokes and entertain yourself. You hated sleeping in bed with us as a kid, didn’t like cuddling, and spent the ages from 5-10 “hugging” me by poking me with your index fingers and saying “hug, hug.” So now, when you snuggle me on the couch, or hug me with both arms…it is truly special.

I love you, kid. And I’m proud of the man you’re becoming. Carry on.

Love, Momma