I can still picture that day vividly.
We were so unbelievably excited to meet you!
Sean Owen or Abigail Grace…
Or “Shabby” as Grandpa Kevin had taken to calling you in utero, after we narrowed down boy and girl names.
We wanted to be surprised about your gender.
I didn’t think I had any hunches either way, though lots of others shared their guesses.
However, when you came out and Dr. Axelrod said, “It’s a boy!” I was surprised.
I must have been subconsciously expecting a girl.
I did grow up in a home with three women and one man. I never had a brother and was a bit overwhelmed at first as to what I would do with a son.
I think your Daddy was over the moon when he found out!
I’ve likely told you all of this before and probably more than a few times over the past twelve years.
I know you and your sister love hearing stories like this, especially on special occasions.
And there are so many stories of your life so far.
I am so proud you, Sean.
You have faced many challenges this year and throughout your life.
From navigating the loss of your sister Molly seven years ago to learning what it takes to build genuine relationships with classmates, family, and friends.
Not everyone in your life is always nice to you and that is hard.
You are such a loving and caring boy and it breaks my heart to see when people mistreat you.
You are learning so much everyday at school and from your experiences. I love that you are trying to make sense of the world and our corner of it.
The older you get, the more difficult parenting you becomes. I am sure you sense that. You are a very intelligent and crave detailed explanations for anything and everything you want to know. Unless of course you know already, then you are easily bored and frustrated.
I appreciate that about you.
You are all about playing your video games… Here’s a pic of you on Christmas morning very excited about your first Amiibo to use with your new Wii U!
From your 3DS XL to your Wii U to your iPhone (though it’s not really a phone/activated that way)…
From Amiibos to Skylanders to Pokemon…
You are growing up in a world that is so different, at least technologically, then the one I lived in at your age.
We joke about that a lot! Especially when it come to the only gaming system I ever used as a kid (Atari)!
I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like to have smart phones, tablets, laptops, DVRs, the internet, and so much more when I was twelve.
You love to joke around, I think you get that from your maternal grandfather. And you are a funny kid!
You still enjoy being part of the Chicago Children’s Choir/Beverly Neighborhood Choir and musicals at the Beverly Arts Center. I can’t get enough of watching you perform and seeing how you are growing and maturing in your ability and self discipline on stage.
It’s also been awesome to watch you transition from being a Cub Scout to a Boy Scout. You were brave to go away to Camp Owassippe for a week this summer with your troop and again recently for a two night camping trip. It is cool to see all the skills you are learning and the confidence you are gaining through scouting. I look forward to planning and going on a family camping trip with you sometime in the not too distant future.
You also continue to talk about God and seem to have a strong faith. I am so happy about that. And seeing you get more engaged with mass, now that you are an alter server, is pretty great too.
One of your newest passions is Lego Robotics. I am not sure I completely understand what it is, but I sure am glad you are digging it! You must be, if you choose to stay inside at recess sometimes to work on projects with your friends/teammates.
We are working on honesty and telling the truth.
I am not sure why this is one of your struggles lately.
We talk a lot about it and techniques to help you with it. I believe we are making progress.
I think it is awesome that you are willing to take risks. Though not in every area of your life.
One of my favorite memories from your eleventh year, as you know, is our epic family trip to Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida! It was exhausting and so much fun!
You challenged and inspired me to join you on many thrill rides that I know I wouldn’t otherwise have even considered. I can’t believe you got me on at The Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios and Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom.
It was also a highlight for me to discover the “single rider strategy” with you and laugh and smile when I think about how many more times we got to go on our fav rides (especially the two Harry Potter themed ones) because of it!
Sean, thank you for being you.
You are an awesome big brother to Abby, who adores and learns so much from you every day!
I know Molly is so very proud of you too and believe that in someway she is able to follow your journey in this lifetime from Heaven.
I am grateful that your four grandparents are such a significant part of your life. From our visits to Evanston and to Magician Lake, and the many holidays and special occasions we celebrate together, you are blessed and lucky to have quality time with them.
The same goes for your aunts, uncles, and cousins. Not having grown up with close relationships with mine, I am so happy that you know yours and get to see them often. It is cool to see the various things you have in common with our family members.
Most recently I have relished in watching your relationship develop with your newest friend and likely the first kindred spirit you’ve known, B. What a blessing that he ended up transferring into your school this year. You are truly two of a kind and it’s awesome to see you both connecting the way you do, having so many of the same interests.
Well, as we say, I have gone on a number of different tangents with this year’s birthday letter to you. I hope that it lives up to your expectations!
On that note, a bit of advice as you enter your last year as a tween…
One of the hardest lessons for me to learn throughout my life relates to expectations. Many of my struggles and disappointments have come from having unrealistic expectations for how things will go with my family, friends, and life events.
Managing expectations and/or trying not to have too many in the first place isn’t easy. I get that.
However, the less you expect from others and life experiences, the more you are able to live in the moment and appreciate people and situations for who and what they are. As opposed to who and what you want them to be.
I am sure it does.
You are so perceptive and understanding.
I look forward to our family birthday celebration tonight, with your choice of carry-in McDonald’s and family video games after dinner and your cake.
Tomorrow’s “friend” birthday party at Level 257 I think is gonna be a blast too! Not sure if I am more excited to bowl with Daddy, Abby, you, and your three friends (which we allowed you to invite) or play old school video games (such as Pac Man) in the arcade there.
I hope this next year in your life is your best yet!
Happy Birthday, My Sweet Sean Owen!
I love you sooooooo much!