As of today, November 21st, I’m the mother of an adult. My son Chris is 18 years old today! Soon he will be headed out into the world on his own, an inevitability that tugs on my heart as nothing ever has before. Although I obviously love all four of my children with equal fierceness, many parents -- myself included -- bond with their first-born babies in a very intense & special way. Plus he was an only child for 4 years and Chris went everywhere with me. I hope that the choices I’ve made along the way have been the right ones for him. Isn’t that what all parents worry about? :) His whole future is ahead of him and it now lies in his own hands.
It seems like yesterday I was bringing him home from the hospital, helping him take his first steps, taking him to Kindergarten while I bawled my eyes out, kissing his boo-boo’s and reading him bedtime stories … there are so many ‘firsts’ memories. He has made my life so much better just by being in it. I could not have asked for a better son - even in my wildest dreams. He’s a wonderfully loving, sweet, thoughtful, generous, caring, smart and funny young man. I’m just the lucky mom that gets to claim him and love him. Please wish my son a very happy 18th birthday today! He really deserves all the love and good wishes he can receive, from everyone we know.
I love you my sweet, baby boy….with all my heart and soul.
Happy 18th Birthday!! xoxoxoxo
First - let me say that I do not mean to embarrass you with this; however, I do believe that it is a mother's prerogative to allow her emotions to overwhelm her at certain points of her life. The opportunity to begin the next chapter of your life as you enter into adult-hood is one of them. It is because this means that my chapter as your mother is going to begin changing as well. So be patient with me, because if I’m crying while writing this, I will most certainly be crying as you read it. A mother’s love knows no bounds and neither does her sadness and trepidation as her first born son moves onto the next phase of his life, without her holding his hand every step of the way.
I’ve been thinking about how we have sort of grown up together. I wasn't a parent before you came along and so I've had to do most of my learning, and failing, with you. When you were born, I was scared to death. I was only 25 and had no clue how to be a parent. Until that baby is in your arms, you can’t quite fathom the panic that sets in with all the responsibility looming ahead of you, but at the same time, you experience this unimaginable joy and love. Unconditional love… from the first look in your eyes and the first time your little fist wrapped around my finger. I was instantly in love with you. I remember standing for hours by your crib, just looking at you. I was in awe that such a precious, perfect little baby was mine. I was so in love that I would just cry sometimes as I held you. Some nights I would get up just to hold you while you slept. I felt like I was the luckiest mom alive to have you for my son.
Parenting you has been the ride of a lifetime. I wouldn’t trade it or give up a second I’ve spent with you, worrying about you, loving you, arguing with you. It’s been 18 years of pure emotion: love, joy, worry, anger, frustration, terror. Sometimes the emotion isn’t even mine, but yours. When you’re excited, happy or, worse, heartbroken, I feel those things, too. Ever since you were born, I worried and wondered about whether or not I was being the best parent I could be. Did I make you feel important? Did we find enough time for the little things that live on in happy memories - like laughter, and hugs, and "just-between-us" moments? Did I show you enough that you mean the world to me? And, more importantly, did you always know I loved you, even when I was angry at you? I hope I’ve given you enough and made you feel loved, cherished and important.
Sometimes I just stare at you when you aren’t paying attention… and sometimes you catch me. :) Why do I do that, you wonder? There are lots of reasons. I'm staring because it amazes me that someone as handsome, funny, loving and smart as you ever came out of me. I think, how did I get so lucky?! I'm staring at you with hope, because I know that you're sensitive and sometimes a clueless, naive kid…and because I know that the world you're moving into can be unpredictable and cruel at times. I just hope that I’ve given you enough ‘tools’ to make it in this world without too much difficulty. The biggest reason I'm staring is because I know that our time together is short and growing shorter by the day. The day is coming soon when I'll no longer be a part of your everyday life. There will (hopefully) be college and work, some girl who steals your heart, some career that keeps you busy. So knowing that my opportunities to teach and influence you will soon slow down to only the occasional Sunday dinners and holidays, makes me sad.
I find myself frantically wondering if I've covered all the bases, told you all the things I wanted you to know…and wondering, too, if you ever truly listened. I hope you did. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own life. It’s a scary concept, isn’t it? Your happiness, your fortune, and your emotional well-being all essentially belong to you to control and steer. At this point we are still holding your hand and we expect to do so to some extent for some time. (Don’t worry – you aren’t going to come home to find all your stuff on the lawn. Yet. :)) I know you aren't sure what you want to do with your life yet, but I have no doubts that you can do anything you set your mind to. That’s why college would be good for you, it will allow you a little more time to figure it out and decide, while still having the safety of your family. It will allow you to ‘find yourself’ in a way working in the world, just won’t. It allows you to put off the responsibilities of being an adult, out on your own, for just awhile longer. Now is the time for you to figure out who you want to become and where you want to go in life. I am nervous for you, but at the same time glowing with pride about the young man that you have grown to be.
Follow your dreams. Never give up on something you desperately want. Ever. Don’t make the same mistakes I’ve made in life. You are my first-born and I want great things for you. You are love and all things good in my heart. When you hurt, I hurt. When you have joy, I have joy. Of all the things in my life that I might have, could have or should have done differently, there's one thing I'd never change, and that's having you for a son... If I didn't always find a way to say it, I hope I always showed it - I'm proud to be your parent and I love you with my heart and soul.
Happy 18th Birthday My Darling Baby Boy. I love you…forever.