Since my oldest son’s first breath, I have felt like I was waiting for the next stage. After all, it’s a part of our culture to not focus on the present, but to look forward to the next step.
As an infant, they say “wait until they sleep through the night” even if that really means it’s less time that you will hold them directly against your heart for uninterrupted hours.
When your child begins to move its “just wait until they walk, then you will have your hands full!” even if learning to walk also means that you will feel the joy of walking alongside them. How you will hold that chubby hand as you point out the wonders of the world.
When they start school, and they have a hard time letting go of your leg, its “just wait until they don’t want any hugs at all and are embarrassed by you!” Maybe they forget that when you leave your child at the doors of school, you are leaving a piece of your soul you won’t get back until you lay eyes on them again at the sound of the bell.
As they enter the many stages of adolescence, they tell you how challenging becoming a mom of teens will be “just be glad you have boys, so much easier than girls.” Or “At least girls don’t take as many risks as teenage boys”.
The advice is endless and sometimes words can cut deep.
Yesterday, at 8:46 pm, my son moved from the stages of adolescence to that one stage before adulthood. He’s officially a teenager. I don’t feel terrified. Or concerned. I am working hard to focus on the present-what is happening right now. I am determined for us to have more good days than bad, and to enjoy these few years before he leaves the nest.
Sure. There will be many challenges. There will be independence to establish and rules to be tested; although these rules seem to have such deeper consequences. There will be late nights and early mornings among so many other things.
What ‘they’ forget to remind you of is how to appreciate your baby’s skin before that mustache makes too much of an appearance. To relish the top of their head while you can still see it from above. To remember how small their hands once were before they became bigger than yours. ‘They’ forget to remind you that this is the time to stand behind the independent humans armed with all the life lessons you’ve tried to instill: Be kind. Be honest. Be helpful. Be of service. Be the one everyone can go to in times of greatest need. And also protect your heart and your boundaries-those two things will always be able to be bruised and broken, and never will return to just the right shape again. Also-know where you can come home to if you need to fall apart.
I truly believe the best is yet to come. As both boys move into greater worlds, further away from the one we have built for them, I know they will hold some parts of this world in their souls. Our work as parents is far from over-but it’s also just beginning. My hope is to walk alongside them once again. Reminding them of the wonders of the world. Of their true potential and of their greatest gifts. To enjoy this front row seat as they fly into adulthood.
It may be his birthday. But when he made me his mother, he gave me the greatest gift, a gift I was able to receive again a couple of years later. If you are a parent, remember to focus on this current stage as much as possible. I know I will miss the smelly cleats and random unfinished projects around our house. Their goofy laughs will be just echoes soon enough. I am excited to spend as much time in this present reality as possible, and enjoy this stage.
What stage are you in? What has been the most helpful advice you have been given?