When you were little, I was always so sweetly moved by your attachment to your "guys", the collection of special stuffed critters that shared your world. You fed them Cheerios in measuring cups at your little toy kitchen counter, gently dressed them in doll clothes that were mine when I was a young girl, had marvelous birthday parties for them, and told them the most wonderful, creative stories. You loved those guys with your whole heart, and when I saw you with them tucked carefully under your little arm (or tied around your waist with a piece of string so you could keep them close to you while your hands were busy), you made me feel so deeply that you were my guy, a boy whom I loved with my whole heart and would never, ever let go.
Somewhere along the way, you stopped carrying your guys around under your arm all the time, as other interests and activities piqued your growing curiosity and led you down different fascinating paths. Those guys always had their special place in your room, though, in a basket right beside your bed, with each of them having turns to be the centre of attention when you had some time to give them. Slowly over the years, that time grew smaller and smaller as your days filled with older boy pursuits. Then last week, on a day one of your friends was coming over after school, I was putting laundry away in your room and I suddenly found your basket of guys shoved way back in the corner of your closet, and covered up with a backpack. While I understood why they were there, and had known for some time that this day was coming, the sight of your beloved guys hidden away in the dark made me feel sad, as if a little hole had just been punched in my heart.
Little boys cannot go on forever carrying stuffed animals under their arms, it's true; time moves on and little boys become big boys and then young men who need to find their own place in the world. Moms know this, and yet, it is sometimes still so hard for them to let go of their children bit by bit, in the same way their children let go of their squishy, well-loved childhood companions. Moms know that the big, real world is not as safe a place as the imaginary ones their children created in the shelter of a loving home and family, and that people are not always as kind or as accepting as the stuffed guys whose soft, open arms were always ready for hugs and who loved unconditionally. Moms are conflicted between wanting to protect their growing children from situations and people who will make them doubt themselves and the things they most believe in, and knowing that it is through these very kinds of experiences that their children will build confidence and stronger convictions as they grow into adulthood.
Your years of caring for, entertaining, and loving your collection of guys has shown me so much about who you are. You are smart, and creative, and sensitive, and kind; you're sure of yourself and proud of who you've become so far. I have to trust that these wonderful qualities about you will lead you down a happy path as you walk a little more on your own with each passing year. I hope you will remember to listen to your own heart, to surround yourself with people who will let you be the beautiful person you are, and to communicate to others that you accept and appreciate them for who they are, too.