Dear Matthew (aka BoyWonder),
I am writing to you on the occasion of your 18th birthday to say to you simply this: I am sorry.
I am sorry that in what must be the most ironic of cosmic jokes, you, the most reserved of personalities who shuns the limelight and dislikes fanfare, would be born to a mother who is physically incapable of keeping things quiet.
Who, in fact, makes a living out of making her — and your — private lives as public as possible.
I am sorry that being my son has never been what one would call an “easy” gig. It is well documented that I am prone to driving into and setting fire to things.
At age 12, you kept a level head (when your mother did not) during a kitchen fire. You did all the work, and I, of course, wrote a column about it.
From a young age, you took the care of our animals very seriously. I can still recall the near 100-degree day when I came home to find you, a young teen, willingly working in staggering heat to repair a pasture fence without being told.
Let’s be honest, if left to me to repair a fence, those goats would be in Wichita by now.
I, of course, never lifted a finger to help, but I wrote about it.
When you lost a beloved pet unexpectedly — and handled it stoically and responsibly — I was so proud of you, and you know the drill — I wrote about it.
Preschool, birthday parties, first day of school, first dance, first date, first love, when the tooth fairy visited (and more often — forgot).
The times you won — and the times you lost. I wrote about it all.
You were lifted up, humbled down, sometimes embarrassed, sometime proud.
In third grade you wore a T-shirt that said “Be nice or my mom will put you in her column.”
I don’t doubt that there were times over the last 18 years when you wished fervently you could get out of it. Never, in all those years, did you complain.
I am sorry that it came as no surprise to us that you were a County Spelling Bee contender in fifth grade. It was a surprise that we had to read about it in the newspaper because you never said a word at home.
Fortunately, by the time you were inducted into the National Honor Society earlier this year, the school sent us a letter.
I am sorry that I can’t be sure if you are naturally humble or have simply never had to toot your own horn. After all, you’ve had your own publicist from birth.
I am sorry that growing up in the spotlight cannot be easy and having your youthful errors written down to live in perpetuity was probably — no definitely — at times too much.
I appreciate the Villagers who stepped in to save you from “she who overshares.” Special shout out to the middle school teacher who took me aside to kindly suggest that I should probably stop writing quite so much about your personal life.
Little did she understand that writers are instructed to write what they know, and I’m sorry (not sorry) but you are my world.
Your father asked only one thing when I embarked upon making a living out of sharing our lives. He asked that I not use our children’s “real names.”
Locals always knew, of course, but many readers from further afield “watching” you grow up in words, wrote to ask what BoyWonder’s real name was.
Today that mystery is solved. You are Matthew, and you are bright, kind, fiercely loyal, hard working, eager to please, polite, Godly and literally have not given your father or I a moment’s negative concern regarding your behavior since the day you were born.
I’m sure that’s a jinx, and you are knocking off a liquor store even as I type (knock wood).
I am sorry that being my firstborn, only son and pure focus for 18 years could not have been easy for you. I can say that the easiest thing I’ve ever done is to love you more than I ever thought possible.
I have enjoyed every moment of being “Matthew’s Mother,” and I look forward to where the journey takes us next.
I can also say that I mean no disrespect to those who I loved and who loved me before you were born, but I am not sorry to say that the 6,574.36 days that encompass these 18 years of your life so far have been the absolute best days of mine.
Kymberly Foster Seabolt believes in her heart it is still 2004.
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