Since Mike was only 2 when Andrew was born, he didn't really understand which day was his birthday. He thought it was pretty great when I came home with a baby and he had a birthday party with his grandparents and aunties and got lots of presents! (The best memory from that day was mid-party when I looked around for a moment and couldn't find Mike. He was standing in the kitchen with a spoon eating the icing off of his cake!)
Michael was always a very happy, easy going little boy. He was a pretty easy baby. Since he was the first grandchild on both sides of our families, and was blessed to have all four sets of his great-grandparents still alive, Mike got lots and lots of love and attention!
Mike's first Christmas
Mike was a late talker since all he had to do was grunt and point and he had everyone at his beck and call! He was my easiest potty trainer(the only easy one!). Mike was a mama's boy...in the good sense...and he loved to cuddle and snuggle with me. When he snuggled, he would always twist and twirl strands of my hair, especially when he was tired.
Mike is a great older sibling and loves his younger brothers and sisters!(Most of the time!)
Mike has a sensitive and thoughtful side that has acted like a groundhog in winter during his teenage years. But it's still there....especially when he interacts with our friends' children. We even get to enjoy the "happy Mike" side every now and again....and we look forward to the days when the teenage angst of "finding himself" gives way to the confident man I know he will become. (And oh how I pray that day comes soon when the "not so happy Mike" is around!)
Seriously, though, Mike is turning into a young adult that we are very proud of. He works hard, does great at school, and has a strong commitment to family and traditions. I cannot believe that he will be 20 on Thursday...no longer a teenager. He is making a step into a new phase of life in a year that will be filled with change as he graduates from the community college he has attended for two years and moves onto a 4 year college to finish his degree. (Right now he is working to become a high school history teacher and wants to coach basketball, too.) He wants to go away to college, but not too far so he can still join in on family time whenever he wants.
All good change...for him and for us! This will be our first adventure into parenting a young adult. It's a very strange feeling considering that we weren't even young adults when he was born! This is uncharted territory for sure!
It's not easy being the guinea pig child. We hit some pretty hard bumps as a family over the years that affected Mike a lot, too. He was 5 when Therese was born and died, and the only one of his brothers to really remember her. I will never, ever forget his face when he came out of the bedroom that morning, half asleep and stumbling a little into the bathroom with a goofy grin when he saw all his grandparents and his aunt and us sitting in the living room. I followed him into the bathroom and told him that Therese had gone to heaven. His little legs just crumpled and I slid down next to him on the floor as he started to cry. He looked up at me and said, "But I wanted to see her grow up." And I started to cry, and said, "Me, too."
Such a sad thing for a little boy to have to try to understand.
When Peter was diagnosed with Autism, Mike was 10 1/2. That was a really dark, difficult, and stressful time for our family, too. I know that Mike still struggles with the "why" of having lost a sister and having a brother so affected by autism. I wish that we could go back and get more help for the kids to help them work through their feelings of having a special needs sibling. At the time, we were just trying to survive. Being the oldest, Mike took on a more responsible role than most kids his age had to. I know that God is already bringing good out of the challenges of having Peter in our family, and I know that someday God will heal whatever grief Mike holds in his heart.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I can't believe that our oldest sons are so grown up! They are perched on the edge of the nest ready to jump! Occasionally, there are days when I am ready to shove them out(!), but mostly I am in no hurry to have my baby birds...even my 6'4" baby bird....leave the nest. Knowing that they are safe and sound and all under our roof gives me a special sense of peace every night. It just "feels right". I will definitely miss that!
I mean...where did the time go? What happened to moments like this....
Happy (almost) 20th birthday, Michael! We love you very much!
(Sorry you have to share it with your brother!)