Tomorrow is Wednesday morning -we will get up around 6am, go about our busy morning routine of getting all you kids out the door then dad and I will head off to work. Or maybe we won’t, because there is a foot of snow in the forecast. Regardless of the weather, tomorrow would be just another Wednesday except on this Wednesday, you, my oldest son will be 16. That is 832 Wednesdays from the day before I met you.
I grew up with sisters. My childhood was a mess, and by 16? Let’s just say I had no basis on which to raise a boy. I remember when I found out I was having a son thinking that boys were “crazy”- that they were loud and messy. I worried how I would be able to raise one. Years later, recalling those worries I have to laugh because you have been anything but that in my mind (Except for the messy part, I mean, your room is hardly ever clean) You are gentle, kind, intelligent, and thoughtful. I know that when you are mad you lose your temper and when you are tired, you can be downright lazy. But all in all, raising children so far has been the greatest adventure, the greatest sacrifice, and the greatest joy of my life with Jesus and dad being the only exceptions. You, Bobby, were the beginning of that joy.
There was a short window of time when you were an only child. Then another window of time that you held the title of oldest. For a short while, you were my only son and once upon a time, Kyle’s only brother. In spite of other titles you will always be my first. My “guinea pig”. In those years I was learning. You were my practice. Until you, I had never known the exhaustion that comes with bringing home a baby. I didn’t know when to start introducing food, how warm to make a bottle, how to swaddle you, when to let you sleep, when to wake you up. None of it. Truth be told, until Tara’s intervention, I didn’t even know whether or not I could physically put you down. You lived in my arms always and the protector in me said that as long as you were held- all would be okay, but I really did need a shower…
For all the not knowing and guessing I seemed to do then, I do it even more now.
Should you be allowed to?
Do I really care if?
Is this nagging or helping?
Am I helping too much?
Did I push you enough?
OMG he can’t shovel snow correctly. Where did I go wrong?
And yet, you, sometimes in spite of me and your dad, or all the siblings that came next, the small trailer we started in, the cabin we built around us while you slept, the days before dad and I had decent jobs or income, the cars we went through because they got old or we crashed them, the puppies we “tried out” before Maggie, the instability that comes from having young parents and watching them grow up with you… you, have somehow turned out wonderfully.
So here we go, our second sixteen year old. Truly now a young man, and not my baby. (Even though part of me would wish it.) I don’t know what the next years bring for either of us. But I know that just like we have for the past 16, your dad and I (and you) will figure it together. May your birthday and this next phase of your life be as crazy, loud, and messy as you would want to have it -because if that’s what it means to have a son, so far, the pleasure has been all mine.