Every mom says their child is the best thing that has ever happened to them. Not every time this is true. You, Mikhail, were exactly that. I had you when I was a 22-year old college senior. In retrospect, it must have been a challenge, but I sincerely don’t remember any difficulties, I was ecstatic. The proverbial morning sickness lasted for the entire pregnancy. I remember talking to you before every junior year final exams. I would bargain with you. “Give mommy a break during exams, and I’ll sit over the toilet bowl for the rest of the day.” Even in utero you had my back. I used to have so many conversations with you while pregnant. The one- sided conversations included everything from how wonderful your life would be to the daily weather.

After 12 hours of labor, you were born. It was a labor of love. You were truly the most beautiful thing I ever saw. Your aunt says so all the time. I was so excited to be a mom. Sleepless nights meant nothing. Walking what must have been miles up and down the hallway to put you to sleep was effortless. One distinct memory was daddy bringing home some kind of prescribed skin ointment. It had your name, “Mikhail Eaton” on the label. I sat for so long looking at that label. You were suddenly a real person.

As you grew, I fell more deeply in love. You were so easy to love. In addition to being absolutely gorgeous, you are such a sweet soul. I ask God everyday what I did to deserve you. How did two obviously flawed humans create this inspiring child?

Your character defies your age. Good character is not age dependent, but we tend to give minors a pass. I know adults who don’t measure up to you. You’re honest, respectful and responsible. Your maturity and dependability make you a natural leader. You’re confident but not arrogant. A handsome and popular varsity athlete and honor roll student, who is always the first student to make friends with the new kid. Literally everyone who comes in contact with you can testify to your great personality and what a pleasure it is to know you.

How many parents can claim a teenage son who does laundry for the whole household? An older brother whom we can depend on without reservation? To not just be a sterling example, but to teach how to tie shoe laces and long division. You’re almost a surrogate parent!

You’re not perfect. I want you to know that while your actions may disappoint me at times, I will NEVER be disappointed in who you are as a person. I expect great things from you, not because I want to pressure you, but because I believe you have immense capacity for greatness.

Today on your 15th birthday, I pledge to ALWAYS have your back. You can count on me to be not only your mother, but your confidante, defense attorney, health advocate, soccer recruiter, cheerleader and prayer warrior. You know that I relinquished the housekeeper title ages ago lol.

On November 21, 2003 you made me a mother. It was love at first sight. Today fifteen years later, I am extremely proud to call you my son. Happy birthday Mikhail!