I don’t normally go for a gushy, over-the-top birthday post. I don’t particularly care to read them on other people’s sites so you won’t see a whole lot of that here—perhaps it’s basic jealousy at all the achievements I see in other people’s children, perhaps it’s because the love we all feel for our kids just reduces us to lumpy piles of clichés that have been used too many times.

Or maybe I’m lazy. Entirely possible.

On this, Charlie’s third birthday, however, I feel overcome with the urge to commemorate, to mark the occasion, and, of course, to reminisce a little. Quick quiz: how many commas can I fit into one sentence? That last one was a doozy.

Charlie’s birthday was the most frightening day of my entire life. It wasn’t the fear of a final exam you haven’t prepared for, or the acute fear of watching a a horror movie. Instead, it was as if an icy cloud had settled in around me and not one thing mattered: not the needle they jabbed in my arm, not the bigger one aimed at my spine, not the strangers ordering me to get undressed and asking the last time I ate. Nothing.

The sicker Charlie became, the more the fear spread. By the time he came home, it covered every inch of my life and I was consumed with self-pity and dread. I didn’t know what my future held, but it was hard to see how it would be good. Optimism and joy seemed inaccessible.

These days I am so amazed at the tiny person that is Charlie. Is he perfect? Not by the world’s standards. Luckily, I’ve realized that these standards are false and imaginary. I don’t know who created these ideas, but believe me, perfection isn’t a requirement for fulfillment or happiness.

You see, there’s Charlie. Sparkling, beautiful, straight-from-heaven Charlie. Always so happy to see you. How could you ever be scared or worried about an angel like that? This tiny, but whole  human being who loves cheesy top 40 music, Mexican rice and beans, and his brand-new wheelchair. A person who lives fully, feels deeply, and asks so little.  Away from him, I am incomplete. How could he have ever frightened me? How did I not welcome him with joyous arms?

Simply because I did not see him.

I know better now.


Happy Birthday, Little Man.


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  1. TherExtras says:

    Happy Birthday, Charlie! (message sent via your little-bit-gushy Mom's post)


  2. Happy birthday, Charlie!!

    Katy, he is so beautiful and happy. You know, I've been able to sense his joy from the first day I read your blog.

    You are an incredible mother. You and Charlie have inspired me countless times and you're one of the very top things I'm grateful for in this blogging world.

    I hope you both have a fun day celebrating.

  3. Happy Birthday, Charlie! Katie, you are amazing and I am so glad you are no longer afraid but instead overjoyed!

  4. Beautiful post! Happy Birthday, Charlie!

  5. sherrilee says:

    Happy Birthday to a beautiful boy!!

  6. I am glad that you went with the 'gushy, over-the-top birthday post' because this was beautiful!

    Happy, happy birthday to sweet littly Charlie!!

  7. Kristen says:

    I think you write so beautifully Katy. I enjoyed reading this!

    Happy Birthday Charlie!

  8. Felicia says:

    Beautiful! Happy Birthday, Handsome Prince!

  9. Looking Up says:

    Happy Birthday to Charlie! Such an adorable little boy. :)

  10. aLmYbNeNr says:

    A very happy birthday to Charlie!

  11. Nicely said!

  12. Candace says:

    OH Charlie, what a HUGE milestone! Katy, I know this birthday marks so many memories and thanksgiving! What a big day….Faith sends a BIG "Happy Birthday" to you, Charlie! We are so happy for you!

  13. MelissaInk says:

    Happy birthday, Charlie!

    I like your gushy birthday post :)

  14. Wherever HE Leads We'll Go says:

    Beautiful post!

    Happy Birthday Charlie! I am thankful to have had the opportunity to "get to know" you through this blog. You are amazing! I am so inspired by all that you have accomplished. And you are awfully cute, too!

  15. caryanne says:

    OK. You've got me crying over here. Tears are pouring down my face. Really.

    I am so "stealing" some of this for my FB status today. Loved this "perfection isn't a requirement for fulfillment or happiness". Hope that's OK.

    Happy 3rd birthday sweet darling Charlie. You rock.

  16. On the other side of the experience, you can always see it differently. There were no guarantees that things would turn out, that your beautiful boy would survive three years ago. I cannot imagine that kind of terror.

    So it seems to me that Charlie's birthday is that much more incredible to celebrate. Because it is that: incredible. You are a wonderful, amazing momma. And I truly feel fortunate to share in a little slice of Charlie's life via this blog.

    Happy birthday, Charlie!!

  17. Happy Birthday to your adorable man, Charlie! And thanks for getting a little gushy on us, Katy. It was beautifully written. :)

  18. Small Town Girl says:

    Happy birthday to Charlie. I can't believe he's three already!

  19. Hopeful Mother says:

    Perfectly put, Katy. You are learning so much from Charlie, and many of us are learning so much from you.

    Happy Birthday, little guy!

  20. Nadine Hightower says:

    Happy Birthday Charlie!!!! Woo Hoo!!!!

  21. Beautiful post!

    We can feel your connection with Charlie through your blog. He is so lucky to have a mommy like you.

    Happy Birthday Charlie!!

  22. Beautiful post!

    We can feel the connection that you have with Charlie through your blog. He is very lucky to have a mommy like you.

    Happy Birthday Charlie!!

  23. Kristina says:

    What a lovely post! Happy Birthday, Charlie!

  24. Amy Genn says:



    Gush all you want…I think we mom's have a special license for that!

  25. Happy belated birthday, oh adorable little guy. Katy, you wonder how you couldn't have welcome him with joyous arms? Well, like many of us, I'm sure the doctors scared the living heck out of you. I am glad you can so enjoy him now, because he is eminently enjoyable and yummy.

  26. Wow, happy birthday to Charlie, and a very happy baby's birthday to you, too, Katy. After all, you had a little something to do with it :)

  27. I like gushy posts :). Happy Birthday Charlie.

  28. Happy Birthday sparkling, beautiful, straight-from-heaven Charlie! Love that.

  29. Happy birthday to you BOTH. There is so much redemption in this birth story.

  30. Happy birthday Charlie!!!!!, be so happy everyday for the rest life.
    Hi, I love your blog, I'm from Chile and I have 1 little boy, he is 6. Go on with Charlie, he is amazing and handsome boy!!!!

  31. Wahzat Gayle says:

    WOW three years have passed…the time surely flies!!

    Happy Birthday Charlie
    Happy Birthday to you
    God is blessing you now
    Happy Birthday to you!

    And Happy Mommyversary to you!

  32. Charlie, hope you had a great birthday!