The boy who changed my name from Nikki to Mom turns 16 today. His birthday is not filled with pomp and circumstance. It’s raining, which is fitting since he was born outside of Seattle. We fixed his costume for the play, we had peach coffee cake for breakfast, I think he did some Algebra, and he’s home for the day. Later we’ll have pizza and ice cream cake, but for now I’m at the hospital with his brother. Before you panic, he’s not getting stitches or a bone set. Although at our house, that happens quite often. Today it’s tubes in his ears and adenoids being removed. We’ve been down here for hours already and my 16 year old son was not upset that his birthday got turned upside down.
He’s the oldest of 7 and has turned into a patient giving young man. He’s kind and pleasant, funny and silly, a complete space cadet, quirky, bright, and curious. He still drives me nuts with his apathy to things that I think are important, you know like algebra and feeding animals. But truly, he is becoming a wonderful young man. He went to his first formal last week. He looked handsome and his date looked like a princess. The thing that impressed me though was hearing from the chaperones that he treated date so very well. He introduced her to everyone there. She didn’t know anyone but him. He never left her side. He made sure she was having a good time the entire night. We often doubt our parenting. Try daily. Especially since earlier last week I was the parent in the principal’s office, and we don’t even have kids in school. (think about that one for a while) It’s hard to be in that chair knowing you can’t fix it for your kid, and you shouldn’t.
16 years we have been parenting. What I’m learning is that you never have this figured out. Each kid, each stage, each age is so very different. None of them do anything the same. I think you need 4-5 of them just to humble you and chill you out a little bit. I’ve had early walkers, late walkers, early talkers, late talkers, thumb suckers, breast fed, bottle fed, water birth, induced birth, early teethers, late teethers, early readers, late readers, but potty training always sucked. They all get teeth, they all talk, they all use the potty, they all grow, and they all eventually read. There is an average, and that’s the info they give you at school and at the doctor’s office, but if you only have a couple, you don’t see the law of averages play out. When you have 7, you sure do. I’ve mellowed in so many areas over the last 16 years, and ramped up in others. Social media doesn’t help my parenting neurosis. My new obsession is high school graduation. Of course my oldest says, “Don’t worry Mom, I’ve got this.” All I can think is, “He needs Econ, and Civics, and Chemistry, and he can’t write all that well, and he still needs ACT Prep.” And just breathe. I have to keep bringing myself back to the fact that it’s my job to make sure they can take care of themselves and function in society. It’s my job to make sure they know how to treat others and can figure out how to earn a living. It’s my job to love them and let them know that their dad and I are always here to help them up, but not bail them out. This parenting thing is hard in this day and age. I never for one moment regret that day 16 years ago when they handed me a baby and I became a mom. I’m looking forward to seeing six more people turn 16, put on a suit or a dress and take a date to formal. I’m looking forward to more drivers, and dates, and graduations, and someday marriages. I’m so thankful that I get to do this more than twice. Even in the hard, crazy, pull my hair out, one more load of laundry, dishes again, they just ate!!!! I would do this again x7.
So happy birthday to my oldest son. The blessing that he was 16 years ago, the blessing that he is today, and man that he is becoming.