It’s amazing what happens to a mother’s heart when the end of her oldest son’s junior year approaches…like, within 5 days. Wanna know why? Because high school (at least in America) is 4 years long. Each year has a name: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior. Those are in order from first to (gulp) last. That’s right. My oldest son is just a few days (and a few finals) away from being in his last year of high school. He is about to be a senior. Mercy. It’s taken me days just to be able to say it. My son will be a senior.
So here I am, with all the other moms who do this daily, sometimes moment by moment, asking, “What happened to the time?” We must hear people say this a hundred times a month, right? And when they say I it, I nod in agreement or silently lament with them. But here, today, as I sit quietly in a home where that big boy (please, please, please…I know he’s a young man. This is my blog. I’ll call him what I want) slumbers, I am smack dab in the middle of my emotions about him. This could get ugly, y’all.
I’ve shared my story about my battle to even become a mom in a couple of different places, but the gist is that my husband and I had two miscarriages and scratched and crawled through a year of not being able to get pregnant before I had our oldest boy. There were nights I cried for hours, days I stayed in bed, and weeks I’m sure my husband thought I would die. That is the gut-wrenching, honest truth, for I am nothing if not transparent. I believe in vulnerability and in starting the honest conversation about who we are, so that is my truth.
So it’s easy to understand why my heart flutters when my oldest boy walks in a room. :::WAIT. Before you go thinking I favor either of my children, read here. Yeah. That’s my youngest…equally as stunning and awe-inspiring.::: When I see this boy’s face, I mean EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT, I remember the pain I had to endure to see it and hold it and kiss it. And somehow, simultaneously, I am reminded of the complete, pure, utter joy I felt the moment I held his precious little body close to mine. I’ve only felt that pure, raw, unadulterated joy two other times in my life and that was when their dad told me he loved me and when I held my youngest for the first time after he came out of the NICU.
But with all this emotional rollercoastering that I’m doing about my boy growing up, I am hearing more and more from people I really don’t care to hear from about how I should let them do things for themselves, let them find stuff on their own, let them struggle to discover answers (I actually ain’t mad at that one), how they need to learn to “become men” and I’m hindering the process by protecting them or giving them answers or running their damn bookbags to the high school.
I don’t disagree with the whole “becoming men” thing, but guess what? That’s happening every single day with or without me. Biologically, physiologically, it’s happening. And guess what else? (I don’t really care if you agree with me or disagree on this next point because you can do this parenting thing aaaaaaanyway you like.) In our home, the truth is that I cannot teach them, from my core, how to be men. They have their dad for that. I teach them by example how to treat women and how to be honorable, trustworthy men, but their dad is working on the whole “this is how you show your ma respect and love” or “this is how you act on a date” or “this is how you work for a damn dollar” or “this is how you fix something for your mom if she needs you to” or “this is how you do this for your future wife if she asks you to” or, my favorite, “this is who you call when you can’t fix or do something…know your limits.” Judge us all day. This is the model we’ve chosen and it works quite well for us. If ever we need to reevaluate, we will and we will adjust accordingly.
But until they are grown and gone, how about this?
- Don’t worry if my sons still kiss me hello and goodbye or after one of their high school sport events they wade through a crowd of people to find me to hug and kiss me. You can just drop your kid off and it won’t affect my day whatsoever, don’t let our exchange bug ya.
- Don’t worry if one of my kids still needs me to iron his shirt. You let your kid do his own and I’ll iron my kid’s and nobody will ever know. Besides, it will take me 5 minutes to teach him. I have 5 minutes.
- Don’t worry if I drop off something my boy forgot at the high school a couple times a semester. We have an agreement you may not know about until right now and that is that they get two free passes a semester with me. After that, they either deal with forgetting or it costs them. But turn your head when they reach down to kiss me and thank me, it might make you sick.
- Don’t worry if I still insist that my kids accompany us to church. That’s how we do it. Sometimes, things come up. But on a majority of Sundays, our preference is to have us all together as we (my husband and I, you know…THEIR PARENTS) make our best effort to either pass our faith on to them or help guide them through their own journey. Bless.
- Don’t worry if I still go to every single sporting event I can unless I absolutely have no option but to miss it (usually that means work). And don’t worry that our arrangement is that each of our kids will always have at least one member of our family (meaning grandparents, great-grandparents, and uncles and aunties are on call, too) there to represent support. I understand that you don’t want your life revolving around your kids’ stuff. But I do. WE DO. And it won’t always be this way so we choose to embrace it.
- Don’t worry if I call my son a boy. He came from my body…I’ll call him a goldfish if I want.
- And don’t worry that we all choose to do things differently. Why do you care? Why do WE care?
I don’t care about anything like I care about what happens within my four walls. We love hard, we laugh recklessly (
sometimes mostly at each other), we protect fiercely, and we give 100% effort to what we commit to. That matters to me. That’s what raising fine human beings means to me. It doesn’t make me lose one moment of sleep (not much does, honestly) if you do things differently. My only care is that you treat me and my family well. If you don’t, we part ways. I expect the same from you.
And until the moment my boy leaves this nest, whether it’s for college or for work or for marriage (because if I’m being 100% honest, I have no idea what it will be for first), he is NOT too big for me to reach up and kiss him goodbye, for me to tell him I love him and that I would die for him, or for me to hold just a second longer than may be necessary.