To My Son on his Cha Cha Day

Four years ago today we first held Tariku in our arms. We call it his “Gotcha” day and celebrate it as a kind of second birthday. T has taken to calling it his Cha Cha day, so I’m renaming it officially now. Because who doesn’t want a Cha Cha Day?

What are we doing to celebrate? Well, we’re watching Star Wars for the first time tonight. He begged, okay? It’s kind of hilarious, because four years ago I vowed he wouldn’t watch television until, like, he graduated college. Such an astonishingly short leap from there to, “Do you want Shrek or Darth Vader on your cake?”

Here is a letter I wrote to him this morning, for some time in the future. Or for before Star Wars tonight, depending on how he does with the cupcakes:

To My Son on his Cha Cha Day-

It’s been four years since your father and I first climbed the stairs of the care center in Addis Ababa. Four years since your nannies picked you up out of a blue baby chair (your father called it the “launching pad”) in the center of the room and placed you in my arms for the first time. I saw in an instant your deep curiosity and your overwhelming joy, two of the things I still love most about you. I saw for the first time your huge smile, which still brightens my every day.

I wonder if it was that first trip from Addis to Los Angeles that has made you such an adventurer, has caused your imagination to be so captured by the skies. Even before that, when we were still in Ethiopia, you spent hours staring up at the clouds. It’s the reason we chose your middle name- Moon. Because you seemed so entranced by it. Now, when we sit at LAX and watch the airplanes fly overhead, I look at you transfixed by those giant steel birds and imagine that one day I will stand in the same spot by myself and watch a plane take off and you will be on it. I wonder where you will travel. Wherever you choose to go will be a richer and more joyous place because of it.

You sometimes struggle and I don’t always know how to help. You have great big feelings and they shift so quickly that you have a hard time keeping up with them. Your body seems to do things on its own and it surprises and scares you. You want things passionately and don’t take kindly to not getting them. One of the things I love about you is how hard you try. I can see that you are feeling safer every day. One day soon you will grow into your big feelings and it will not be so uncomfortable to be the shining star you are.

You have already traveled so far; have already seen more in your short life than some people will ever see. Your birth mother named you “Tariku,” which means “history,” because she thought that you had already lived such a big story for such a little boy. You are the strongest person I know. And I am a stronger person for knowing you. It is the great privilege of my life to be your mother.

Happy Cha Cha Day!

9 Responses to 'To My Son on his Cha Cha Day'

  1. Barry Davie says:

    Absolutely brilliant blog. I can totally relate to the “Shrek/Darth Vader cake” topic, except mines would be “Brave/Tangled/Monster High cake” (2 girls) hmmm…

  2. Barry Davie says:

    Happy Cha Cha Day wee man! Love from Scotland x

  3. Chris says:

    Happy Cha Cha Day, Little T! You are a lucky man to have such loving, devoted, and fashionable parents (just look at that holiday card!) As your mom has shared with us the stories of your days, of growing up and into your wonderful self, we have all gotten to follow along and watch in amazement as she grew alongside you. You are a magnificent family and I’m grateful your Cha Cha Day has given us all the chance to know and love and enjoy the magic little man you’ve become. Congrats, buddy!

  4. Lynn Sisson says:

    I know that he will cherish your letter. I think for four short years, you are wise beyond your mothering time. Great job! I love Cha Cha Day! You are correct, everyone needs one! Keep enthralling me with your blogs on Tariku! I really enjoy watching your family grow together.

  5. Anne says:

    Beautiful letter to a beautiful little boy…happy Gotcha day!

  6. “gotcha day” – adorable! today i was texting my husband and his iphone autocorrected “gotcha” into “goth chia.” “Goth Chia Day?”

  7. Andrea Judd says:

    Oh Jillian! Tissues please…Happy Happy Cha Cha Day darling Tariku! Izze and I love you and miss you very much! You are all in our hearts all the time and we are so happy for you all to have blessed each other’s lives! Jillian you are a wonderful mother and your letter to T is inspiring and overflows with LOVE. xoxo

  8. Jennifer Newman says:

    Well, if that wasn’t the sweetest and most heartfelt letter to your son. You and your hubby are just as blessed to have him as he is to have you! Don’t we ALL wish for mementos like that from our mothers … Keep writing him every year so he’ll have lasting treasures of all his cha chas!!!!

  9. KevinS says:

    So sweet, Jillian.

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