To my second son, my first red-head, and the one who introduced me to home birth and baseball.To my son who embodies boyhood and bravery and inspires me to love both. To my son who is 100% tough and 100% tender all at the some time, leaving me feeling safe and vulnerable all at the same time. To my son who fills my heart with admiration, my days with adventures, and my home with more weapons than I ever dreamed possible or responsible. To my son who serves as my personal ‘bird dog’, sniffing out inauthenticity and chasing me into higher honesty where I’m forced to surrender my stories and illusions and excuses and just be. To our family’s medic, chief entertainer, and the one you can always count on to rise to the occasion. To my son, whose first week of homeschooling resulted in him accidentally stabbing me in the eye with a pencil and who later bloodied my nose when he accidentally head-butted me while cuddling on the couch. To my son who has asked God to ‘please let me get into more bloody fights’ and who is also the first to protect the weak. To my son who falls asleep listening to Fats Domino and wakes up to play the piano before trotting into the woods at 8 am barefoot and shirtless to work on his latest project. To my son who has walked through deep loss at such a young age and is still able to love fiercely and find beauty all around him. To my son who is drawn to the spiritual just as fully as he’s drawn to wrestling Daddy or making Mommy laugh or playing catch with his baby brother until you are convinced the two are connected-that every-day living is spiritual. To my son who loves being in the center of a sweaty, boisterous band of boys patrolling the woods for zombies just as much as he enjoys sitting quietly on the back porch with me over a cup of herbal tea or-more lately- black coffee. To my son who has his eyes set on becoming a Marine, and yet I can also see him becoming anything he sets his eyes on. His drive and determination is exhilarating and exhausting and has taught me to step back a little more and watch from a safe distance as he finds his way. He drives me to tears, drives me to prayer, drives me to wisdom, drives me to writing this post at 2 am lest I lay awake all night with this burning in my heart. I wonder if there will be more sleepless nights in our future together. Who is given a hatchet on his 4th birthday? Who is given a WWII history book on his 6th birthday? Who is given a personal tent on his 9th birthday? Sam, that’s who! I’m not sure how you’re turning 9 this morning, as it seems we just welcomed you into the world yesterday. I’m also not even sure if I’m raising you or if you’re raising me? Perhaps we’re walking each other into our growth. You leave me feeling unsure of quite a bit, but of this I am sure- I am a better human for knowing you, and the world is better for having you in it. Keep being you, Sam. We love you more than words can express. But you’re not one for words anyways, so we’ll continue to strive to show you with our actions, the truer measure of the heart.