I have said this a few times today but I don’t know that words can express how much I mean it. I am SHOCKED that my baby is fourteen years old today. It’s astonishing. This boy who made me a mother is becoming a man. His voice is changing. He’s taller than me. He’s so calm and quiet. He no longer climbs the doorjamb so he can jump down. He prefers “Your face,” to “I love you.” And yet, he’s still so… himself. His smile is the same. His hugs, though fewer, are just as warm. His laugh still always manages to make me laugh as well. He’s still the one who made me a mother. And not just because I gave birth to him. He made me a mother because he taught me what being a mother truly means. A few things I’ve learned from him. (BTW, I’ve also learned from my daughter but I’ll share those lessons on her birthday. These are lessons that came about specifically because of J’s unique personality and/or because he was my firstborn.)
- There is a big difference between being A parent and being HIS parent. This one took longer to figure out than I care to admit. So many people are full of advice and theories. So many of them make a lot of sense. But the child in front of me was not simply all of the components of the “average” child, no child is. Learning to see him as an autonomous person whom I had a relationship with and a responsibility to instead of a child to mold and be responsible for changed me. It changed the way I saw my role in other relationships as well.
- I can’t control everything. As much as I want to it’s just not possible. And trying to will drive me crazy and make him anxious/rebellious/miserable.
- It really doesn’t matter what other people think. Again, I can’t believe it took as long as it did to figure this one out. But for some reason when it came to giving him the space to be himself I found the courage I couldn’t find to be myself. And again it crept out of my parenting toolbox and impacted every other area of my life. I know how to accept others because I want him to be accepted. I learned to be myself because I knew I needed to show him how to do that.
- Question everything. He needs to know why. He needs to understand motivations. And I have to be prepared to explain it to him. And I’ve learned to ask bigger and broader questions as a result.
- Life is scary but we can’t be paralyzed by that. I had a miscarriage before J was born. As a result I spent much of my pregnancy and the first year of his life waiting for something terrible to happen. But then, he started learning to walk. He would stumble and get right back up. Determined. He would occasionally look to me, reading my face. When I was relaxed so was he. He needed me to reassure him that things weren’t TOO scary to keep going. This one was “fake it til you make it” for a while but eventually I got there.
In addition to what I’ve learned from him I can’t end this post without saying that I genuinely enjoy him too. I’m happy to have learned so much but more than that I’m happy to have this smart, funny, geeky, charismatic guy in my life.