This is what I wrote when my son turned fifteen. I read it again today for the first time since posting it over four years ago. I had no idea when I wrote it my son would make the choice to join the Marines. I’ll be kissing him goodbye in less than forty eight hours. I’m proud, I’m happy he’s doing what he wants to do, but it hurts my heart more than I can express with words.
Originally posted March 3, 2008
That right there is my first born son at his First Birthday Party. I remember I started planning that party when he turned six months old. I couldn’t wait for my boy to turn one. I couldn’t wait to celebrate the first year of his life.
Oh, what an incredible year that it was. I loved every minute of being a new mother. Back then, I don’t think I could have understood the moms who write about how hard it is being a mother. It wasn’t hard for me. Sure, there were moments that were difficult. There were times that the crying became overwhelming. But those times with my first born son were few and far between. (The second child? TOTALLY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE.) That boy was the most laid back, mellow, sweet spirited baby a mother could ask for. And I’m not saying that to sugar coat the experience of becoming a mother at the age of 22. I’m not saying it to be all “children are a blessing!” I’m saying it because it’s simply the truth.
I loved being a mom. I reveled in it. I felt like it was what I was born to do. And I believe it’s all because of the sweet spirit of my son. He was always happy, but quiet. He never fussed much. He wasn’t demanding or difficult. He always seemed content and laid back, as if he was habitually high on The Pot.
Planning his birthday parties has always been one of the highlights of being his mom. I’ve loved watching him enjoy being showered with attention on his big day. I’ve felt pride and unspeakable love as I’ve watched him blow out the candles on a cake. How lucky, how absolutely lucky I’ve been to have another year with this boy. And there aren’t words that can begin to express how I felt watching him walk around school with an orange crown made of construction paper, glue and glitter.
As my son approached teenage-hood, my feelings for his birthdays began to change.. A day that once brought me pure joy and happiness now was mixed with tears and sadness. I suppose that’s part of being a mother– learning how to accept that they’re only children for a season and your job is to raise them to be the best people they can possibly be. But, no one really, truly tells you how difficult and painful it is. People say “enjoy them while they’re little! They grow so fast!” And you nod your head and say “I know! They’re growing so fast!” But, until your teenager fills out his highschool “career goals” and checks the “police officer” box or until he starts locking his bedroom door and coming out all sweaty and red in the face (HOLD ME) you can’t understand how meaningful those words are. “Enjoy them while they’re little” is so cliche, but, oh parents of little ones, Enjoy them while they’re little.
One day, one day you’re just going to look back at pictures of them and you’re going to sob because your heart aches at the same time as it soars. In the blink of an eye, the little baby that you once held in your arms is a beautiful, thoughtful, kind, hilarious human being who you’d want to be friends with even if they weren’t your child because they are THAT AWESOME– but my GOD, what you wouldn’t give to go back in time and hold them tightly in your arms while sniffing their sweet baby breath.
(I have a tradition of taking their pictures first thing in the morning on their birthday. I want to remember EXACTLY what they looked like the day they turned a year older. This was taken at 6:45 this morning.)
Happy 15th Birthday, Nunu. I love love love you and as sad as I may feel about you being another year closer to adulthood, today, I celebrate you.
I celebrate the day you came into my life.
I celebrate every memory we’ve made together.
I celebrate your love of music.
I celebrate your kind gentle spirit.
I celebrate everything that makes you the beautiful person you are fifteen years after the first time that I laid eyes on you.