My beautiful boy, my oldest, is 23 today. I close my eyes and I can feel him kicking inside. I can smell his delicious baby smell, or that incredible sweaty little boy smell. Like dirt and happiness. The best part is the feel of his little arm wrapped around my shoulders, his little hand on my neck. So trusting, so completely, 100% part of me. Becoming a mom is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Of course I miss him. Of course it’s hard being half a planet away. But he is always in my heart, right here, and just a quick close of my eyes away. The first three years of his life it was just us, with a generous dose of help from my parents, sisters and closest friends. That builds an unbreakable bond, and to this day that remains unbroken. Even with the addition of a husband & father, brothers, even a sister, that bond is there. Now he is starting to build his own family, and that bond remains strong. His is just at the very beginning stages, I really shouldn’t jinx it, but Danielle is already starting to feel like family. A mother can have dreams too.

I was blessed to raise Soren in California, outside of San Francisco, a fantastic place to raise kids. Together, and later with Dave & his brothers, we travelled all over the amazing Golden State. We camped in Tahoe, Yosemite and the woods outside of Santa Cruz. We went to Kelly Park, the Childrens Museum and the San Francisco Zoo. We visited the San Jose Flea Market, Gilroy Garlic Festival and the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival. An afternoon at the beach remains one of my favorite ways to spend a day. My dear friend Kristen took this photo of us after a long day on Half Moon Beach, at twilight, after the sun went down. Soren is just 1 here. And yet, again, if I close my eyes I can smell the beach. I can feel the fog on my skin. I can feel his small, warm body in my arms.

He’s 23 today, and almost 6 ft. tall. I’m the small one now, but my love is just as big. Happy Birthday baby! I miss you.