While we try to teach our children
all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.

~Angela Schwindt
Our youngest son is 18 today, and I’ve been filled with an odd mix of emotions all day. Memories gush forth from the halls of his childhood, tumbling over one another like water droplets from an Adventure Island tube slide. I must say, mothering this boy has been a delight. 
He was truly one of the most beautiful babies I’ve ever seen, 
 with a smile that could win the heart in an instant.
  
No one understood how a toddler could be such a mature comedian.
But he was.
 
  
He was a moody little critter,
but no matter how he might sometimes scowl, 

there was always a smile just ’round the bend.
And when he was little, he didn’t mind so much
having that smile captured in photos.
That would not be the case for long.
He liked baseball, but wasn’t enamored with it
like his older brothers had been.
Sometimes I wonder if he just played to humor the rest
of the family.
He’s like that. 


Now, football, he LOVED.
 
And he loves the outdoors. A lot. 
By the time he was 10 or so, he wasn’t so fond of the camera being pointed in his direction.
But he still tolerated it for my sake.
He has always adored his family. 
Even when he got cool. 
His love for weaponry started very early on,
which made gift-giving from brothers pretty easy. 
Chili’s was his favorite restaurant,
so that’s where we went on our Mama-Son date. 
And he just kept getting cooler and cooler. 

When he showed an interest in playing the bass,
I gave him my 1977 Music Man Stingray. 
He always studied hard and learned quickly.

And he turned out to be quite the natural at the bass.

He’s always been comfortable alone.
He jokes that he just plain doesn’t like people,
but we know that isn’t true. 
He’s just comfortable in his own company.


In the teen years, once in a while I could get him to smile for me even with the camera in my hand.

Sometimes his thinly veiled tolerance showed through
just a teeny bit,
which only made him more handsome (and like my brother).
He was not fond of his “big hair”. I was.

Alas, the big hair was not to be. 
  His love for football continued into his teen years,
and he even got a chance to play a little high school football.
His sister loved cheering him on
(as did we all, but we didn’t have cute uniforms).
Occasionally he just wasn’t in the mood for pictures.
Kind of tough on a mom who is a photographer.
He has never liked being the center of attention,
although if anyone deserves it, he does.


One thing is for certain: he loves his little niece, Baby Belle.


As the youngest member of Despite Distance,
he is known as the Thunder. 
(Still thumpin’ that Music Man.)

He is more amazing than words can describe, our Mattie.
I don’t think I could ever do enough for him to show him
how much he means to me.
There aren’t enough backrubs.
There aren’t enough plates of chicken fettuccine Alfredo.
There aren’t enough awesomely cool guns or knives
or Zippo lighters or pocket-watches.
There aren’t enough hugs.
But I will never stop hugging
and trying to express how much I love him.
And how grateful I am to be his mama.
Time will keep marching on, but nothing will ever fade this love of a mama for her baby boy.
 
And he will always, always be my baby boy.



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