Dear Big C,
Well, you are a teenage boy. Where did the time go? It feels like just yesterday that you were in 1st grade and gearing up for your 7th birthday party.
It’s difficult for a mother to imagine her children growing into independent adults. Instead of thinking about our children driving and dating and opening their own Facebook accounts, it’s so much easier to remember the days when our children relied on us for everything.
When you were little, I tried to imagine what you’d be like as a teenager. Would you still have blonde hair? Would you still be a cautious perfectionist? Would you still stay up past your bedtime with your nose stuck in a book? Would you still have that brilliant smile that showed off the dimple in your chin? Would you still hug me and tell me you love me?
I also wondered (and worried about) how life as a military brat would affect you. You never had trouble in the social department. I always joked that you could befriend a brick wall. And that ability to make friends with ease is certainly an asset to any military brat who is forced to spend their youths moving around the world and frequently saying good-bye to friends. I always hoped that your experiences as a military brat would enhance your already social personality as opposed to compelling you to withdraw and rebel. I imagined that living the life of a military brat would lead you to follow one of two very different paths: you would either enter high school as a bitter, resentful, rebellious teenager with a blue mohawk and inappropriate body piercings, or you would be a respectful, confident, well-rounded young man who appreciated and learned from his experiences. I can only hope that your father and I helped you to see the positive aspects of being a military brat more than the negatives.
Kids pass through many stages in their lives, and as a mother, I’ve tried to enjoy all of them as they happen. Whenever I’ve found myself gripped by frustration and wishing you were older or more independent or more verbal (or less verbal) or in that next stage already, I’ve tried to pause and remind myself to enjoy the present stage while I can because I can never get it back.
When you were a baby and screamed in the middle of the night with colic, I reminded myself that a time would soon come when I’d no longer smell your baby sweetness as I rocked you in my arms. When you were in the midst of your terrible two’s and you learned how to get my attention by holding your breath until you almost passed out, I reminded myself that a time would soon come when our arguments would be much more hurtful than your wordless tantrums. When you were five and informed me I was no longer allowed to kiss you good-bye when the school bus picked you up for kindergarten, I reminded myself that a time would soon come when you wouldn’t allow me to express affection at all, in public or private. I want to remember all of these stages for what they were: building blocks in the development of the man you will soon become. And your teenage stage? Well, I can’t wait to see what surprises this phase of your life brings.
You are my first born. You will always be my baby. And I will love you regardless of whether you have a blue mohawk or a blonde high and tight. Now stop rolling your teenage eyes and give me a hug!
I love you.