Nick is 20. TWENTY. I can’t believe it. Although I do think that his 21st birthday will run over me like a truck. This one just seems so surreal.




I have such vivid snapshots in my brain of him. Of the day I found out I was pregnant with him. What a daze; I remember walking in to work after my appointment and my boss looking at me and saying, “What’s wrong with you? Are you pregnant?” I started laughing hysterically and could barely say, “Yes!”

Memories of being blissfully pregnant with him, laughing about how huge I was, and then staring in disbelief when he was born at how huge he was. (It’s a stat that I throw around like a trophy: 23 1/4″ long and 10 1/2 lbs. Holy Mutha.)

Staring at his fuzzy newborn shoulders at two a.m., the two of us belly to belly, and being completely and utterly astounded by him.

Being surrounded by his after bath sweetness and squishing him into pj’s and blankets, all ready to be tucked in at night. I took for granted that he was a great sleeper from a pretty young age.

Moving through profound devastation at the failure of a marriage and into the realization of being a single mom, wondering how on Earth to care for him and me when I felt like such a baby, myself.

Feeling like he saved me. Nick saved me. Seeing his precious face, every day, was all I needed to put one foot in front of the other, day in and day out, especially on those mornings when I would wake up and be honestly surprised that I was still breathing, still here on Earth, and hadn’t dissolved away in the middle of the night.



Watching him turn from baby to toddler, from toddler to little boy, from little boy to young man. Yet still, when he’s asleep, I can still see that baby. How his dark eyelashes lay on top of his cheeks. The years peel back and I remember.

And here he is now, a young man who has started a career, who’s in a committed relationship, who’s started to make his own way in life. One who’s learned some very hard, very difficult lessons, but still keeps putting one foot in front of the other, day in and day out.



He’s making it, this one. I wondered a lot about that, but he’s making it. Dare I say he’s even thriving?

He’s thriving.




I wish there was a better, more complete way, to say I love him. He’s so huge in my life, so much a part of my true growing up, so ingrained in my heart. It feels more complicated than a simple “I love you, Nick.”

But maybe not. Maybe that’s just the rawness, the bare bones of it, the quiet peace in it.

I love you, baby. Happy Birthday.




Comments (4)

  1. Karrie

    Maybe it’s because I’m a mom of boys and I know this day will come for me, too. Or maybe it’s because you’re a fantastic conveyor of heart, emotion… love. Either way, I have tears in my eyes. Happy birthday to Nick. Happy Birthgiving day to you, Mary :). You are amazing! (And sidenote: you’ve made three very handsome boys!)

    1. Mary

      Karrie, I honestly feel like I can slow time down with pictures, don’t you? You’re doing that with those beautiful boys, my sweet friend. You can reach out and touch those moments at any time. Love them up, girl! We moms of boys have to stick together. They’re going to bring us daughters someday, and holy cow what’s that going to be like?!

  2. hannah

    happy birthday to nick and to twenty years of motherhood mary. thank you for sharing such a special piece of your life – nothin but tears over here. xo

    1. Mary

      thank YOU hannah. you inspire me to write from the heart. and so does that little jackson with his honesty! :) ha. your last blog CRACKED ME UP. poor justin. busted in the worst way.

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