Many people become melancholy as their children get older. Many of my friends have said to me at one point or another that they wished their kids could stay young forever, that they are growing up too fast, that they are changing every day.

My baby (or, my “littlest angel”, as I like to call him) will be nine years old next week. While it’s true that I won’t really have “babies” anymore (Mike is almost twelve), I have a different perspective on my kids growing up.

Jack’s birthdays are always a milestone for me.  Since I was diagnosed when he was not even a half a year old, every birthday that he celebrates is a reminder to me that I have made it another year.

I am glad that Jack will be nine. I have been around to put twenty baby teeth under the pillow,  watch unbridled joy on nine Christmas mornings, see first steps and that first successful bicycle ride.

I have also been able to see him go off to kindergarten. Unlike other mothers putting their kids on the bus on that first morning, I was not crying. I was joyful. I was so thankful that I was here to make his lunch, brush his hair, tie his new sneakers, put that little turtle shaped badge around her neck, and kiss him goodbye.

I’ve celebrated nine Fourth of July with him and been able to enjoy the look on his face when those fireworks would explode.

I’ve been able to be at his preschool and second grade “graduations”, which were so important to me.

I’ve been able to teach him to swim, take him into the ocean for the first time, on plane rides, road trips and family get togethers.

I have bandaged countless boo boos, ridden in the ambulance with him after a head injury and held his hand when he needed support. I have refereed fights with his brothers and talked with him when one of his friends is “mad” at him and he is upset. I’ve spent sleepless nights with him while he had a bump on his head or a fever or a bellyache.

I am so glad that I was able to comfort him through the deaths of my grandparents, which were very difficult for him. I can’t imagine him getting through that time without me.

I am so blessed to be here to see each and every stage he goes through and I am constantly thanking God that I have been here through all of this.

Every year that passes, I am more confident that I will be here to see my grandchildren, and I’ll be sure not to take any time I am given with them for granted, either.

So, I hope tonight, when you look at your children, you think about what I’ve said. Every phase is a precious gift.

I’ve always felt that your children are “lent” to you by God, and it is your responsibility to take care of them and honor them. I am so glad that I am here to take on the job.

Happy Birthday, Jack. I love you.