I interrupt this Silent Summer to bring you a few important words.
My son turned thirteen today.
He has had just about the best 24 hours a thirteen-year-old boy could ask for. His two best buddies came over last night for a sleepover. Only one of them slept (not Andrew) and they played video games all night long. There were cheeseburger-flavored Doritos, cupcakes and Cheetos. Oh yeah, pizza and unlimited sodas too.
He did not go to bed after his friends went home.
He continued playing video games until lunch time. He ate more pizza for lunch while we watched Pink Panther cartoons.
Then he played more video games.
He took a short nap, a shower and was ready in time for supper at the restaurant of his choice. He ordered up a burger the size of his head, chowed it down with nary a look of caution from his parents, and went to Grandma's house for presents and cake.
That is living, I tell you!
It's very different now.
It used to be that I would be awake all hours the night before his birthday, painting, gluing, baking and setting up for some elaborate theme party. Erupting volcano cakes? Pirate ships made out of refrigerator boxes? Light Saber training games and Jedi costumes for all his friends? Yeah. We've done that.
It's more quiet now - more subtle. But that isn't a bad thing.
When a girl has babies, she hears from every well-meaning person in the grocery store to "just wait" until the terrible twos. "You think things are hard now? Just wait until they're walking and you have to chase them!" When a girl's babies turn into toddlers, it seems like most wiser folks want to tell her that while "you think things may be exhausting right now, just wait till they can talk and get smart with you!"
And on it goes. It's hard to enjoy living in the moment with your children when you are barraged with dire warnings about the cataclysm that lies just around the corner. And if you believe everyone who tells you how fast time flies, it sometimes feels like you will surely awaken tomorrow to find a pimply, smart-mouthed, rebellious, hair-dying, body-piercing alien life form staring out of the crib and blinking at you.
That kind of stuff makes me mad.
I have always wanted to enjoy each and every moment - all the joys and the rough stuff too - for myself, in my own way, from my own perspective. And you know what? So far, everyone else has been wrong.
The terrible twos were just about my favorite year. That is until my son started talking to me and I began to see what an amazing person was living inside that tiny body. Every year has gotten better and better and every year seems to be my favorite one. I could not be more proud and more humble, all at the same time, to be Andrew's mom. He surprises me every day with intelligence, maturity and righteousness beyond what I have expected. He is a leader in his school and balances a very full life with ease. He is funny and loves to laugh. He loves music like I do. And yeah. He's a gamer. I'm okay with that.
I got a few minutes alone with him today in the car and he asked, "So. Are you freaking out about me being thirteen?" And I replied that, even though I had been joking around about that, the truth was that, if I stopped to think about it...
And that's where I lost it.
Big, Mama-tears started rolling down my cheeks.
He reached over and touched my arm and said, "You okay, Mom?"
And I said, "Yeah. I'm alright. It's just that you used to be so small and now you're not."
I went on to tell him that I'm, not freaking out about him being thirteen. I told him (for the millionth time) that everyone warns a girl about what happens when her son starts to grow up. The horror stories of broken-hearted moms are everywhere.
"But that I don't think it's going to happen that way for us," I said. Tears still falling, sobs choking me up, I told him how proud I am of him and how he's growing - proud that he's respectful and that we talk honestly about things, humbled that God chose Chris and me to be his parents. I told him that I'm so glad he landed with us.
And he said he didn't think it was going to be so bad for us either.
Don't get me wrong - I know that there will be heartache on this path. This is going to be a big year, bringing big changes. I've known enough boys in my lifetime to know that. And if I do my job right, he will leave, I will be replaced with a lovely young somebody.
I know that.
I also know that, in spite of what I was told,
I believed in better things for my baby boy and I wasn't wrong.
I believed in better things for my toddler and those years were a joy.
I believed in better things for my little boy and he exceeded all my hopes.
I believe in better things for my teenager than what the world predicts.
So far, so good.