He had a head full of black hair. I will never forget the first time I held him. He was all cleaned up and smelled deliciously of Mennen Baby Bath. Sometimes I'll take a smell of that baby bath and it always takes me back to the days my boys were babies. And being sore from the surgery, I remember he felt heavy.
We brought him home from the hospital and we quickly settled into a new and very good life. He was like a doll to me. I dressed him up and made his picture constantly. He was photographed more by the time he was six months old than I have been in my entire life. He wasn't a very good baby, though. He cried a lot. We learned lots of tricks, one specific one comes to mind. We'd put him in his car seat and sit him on top of the dryer with the dryer on. The humming of the dryer would lull him to sleep.
This is me the day we came home from the hospital.
After having only girls in my family, and with him being the first grandchild, he quickly became spoiled rotten. My sisters rarely let a day go by without stopping by my house to visit. He was their toy too. And my parents, oh, my goodness. Let's just say that he was the apple of lots of eyes. Especially my dad's. He gave him the nickname "Main Man." He still calls Ross that today. Those days were so special and so wonderful.
I always did my kids' birthdays big. My mama always had us girls big birthday parties, so it's just natural to me to do the same thing. I always invited all the family, then later when he started school, I invited all his friends. The year he turned five, I'm not exaggerating to say that he had at least 20 kids at his party.
Here is Ross on his very first birthday. Twenty years ago. Crystal is helping him blow out the candle. As you can see in the picture, Ross is reaching for the candle and she's telling him ooooh, it's hot. He's always been pretty fearless.
And here is my little hunter guy at his fourth birthday party at Auntie Theresa's house seventeen years ago. Even that young, he loved to hunt with my daddy and loved his toy guns. Notice the cap pistol in the holster around his waist.
Now, fast forward seventeen years. Here is me holding my baby now. He thought he might hurt my legs, but he'll never ever be too big for his mama to hold.
The little boy Ross is so much the same as the young man Ross. That insatiable curiosity. The love of spending money. Loving the outdoors and all animals. Sometimes it seems he can figure out the thoughts of the animals. It's really pretty amazing. And that smile. Oh, that smile.
So this morning at 8:27 a.m., my son became a man. He can now do all the things that men can do. And I'm so proud to tell all of you that what he's most excited about is not going to a bar for a beer or going to the store to buy alcohol. But he's excited that he can now carry a pistol. That might not make some moms proud, but it makes this mom very, very proud.
It really is so true that your children hold your hands a short while, but they hold your heart forever. He's sure got a strong hold on mine and he always will. So even as we celebrate his passage into adulthood, I still see him as my baby Ross. My firstborn. And my heart is so full of love and pride, it just may burst from the joy of it all. Much as it did twenty-one years ago.
Till tomorrow. Live. Love. Laugh.