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As Son Turns 11, Cheryl Reflects on Motherhood

Ryan's 11th birthday with Mom and Dad
Hagen Family Photo

My son is celebrating his 11th Birthday today.  Where have all those birthdays gone?  It seems like not too long ago he was just “my little man” toddling around the house. People say “time flies,” but I really wish we could slow things down and enjoy these years more.

I remember the day Ryan was born.  I went into labor after a night of “trick or treating” with my daughter, Jenna.  He came into the world without much fuss.  Jerry and I were blessed with a beautiful baby boy.

We have so many great memories and heartwarming stories.  We’ve also had our share of challenges as well. 

First Christmas

Ryan’s first Christmas was spent at Children’s Hospital.  The poor little guy could barely breath after being diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection.  He was there from the night of December 23rd till the morning of December 27th.  I slept on a chair that pulled out into a bed for several nights.  Seeing him so ill was heartbreaking.  It was also a very moving experience.  I will never forget the number of strangers who came by to offer an encouraging word, a prayer and some even brought a Christmas gift.  I still get teary-eyed when I think about that Christmas and remember other families there as well.

Ryan and Grandparents
Photo by Cheryl Hagen

Sports and Family

Ryan first learned to play baseball with my father.  My parents took care of him and Jenna when I went back to work.  Ry and “Gramps” became best friends.  He still plays ball with Grampa, who’s now 79-years-old.  Years ago, “Gramps” used to let Ry win, now it may be the other way around!  Ry has learned so much from my parents.  The importance of family, love, appreciation and patience.  He’s developed a great sense of humor.  He reminds me of my dad at times.

One of my favorite memories is teaching Ryan to ice skate.  We signed him up for a beginner hockey program when he was three years-old.  By the time he finished, he was a speedster on the ice.  I remember a conversation with him as that first season came to a close.  At such a young age, he told me he learned that he could do anything if he really tried!  Amazingly, that lesson learned at such an early age has pushed him to work harder at school, sports and so many other things in life.

True Friendship

When Ryan was in the second grade, our world changed forever.  One of his best friends, a boy he played both hockey and baseball with, was diagnosed with Leukemia.  Ryan was so young, but somehow he knew how to cope with the experience.  I was so moved by how he valued his friendship with Jake, taking time whenever possible to hang out together whether Jake was home or if it meant visiting him at the hospital.  Ryan worried about him and prayed for him.  Jake did get better after a bone marrow transplant.  Although, the two don’t see each other as often, the experience has made them friends for life.  Ryan learned true friendship and compassion.

Ryan/Cheektowaga Warriors
Photo by Cheryl Hagen

We Are A Hockey Family

Ryan has shown how resilient he is over the last year in hockey.  Travel hockey is a tough game to play.  After being a part of the same organization for seven years (from the time he was a beginner), he is starting over with a new team this season.  (We are proud to say Ryan is a member of the Cheektowaga Warriors Peewee Travel Hockey Team!)  Ry never hesitated to hit the ice despite not knowing a soul at tryouts.  He still works hard, giving it his all as he tries to make new friends.  We’re hoping this year he learns to have confidence in himself.

Through the years, Ryan has grown into an athlete and sports fan, a comedian, a movie lover, he does great impersonations and can even sing and dance a little.  He’s a tough kid, but very loving and compassionate.  (Although he does battle with his sister a little too much!)  Ry’s also a bit laid back, but seems to know when to step it up.  Sorry if I may see him through rose colored glasses, but today’s his birthday and just thinking about the boy he’s grown into makes my heart sing.

Happy 11th Birthday Ryan! Love, Mom

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