Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Today, we reached a huge milestone. My son, my first baby, turned 18. He's an adult. I mean, at least in the eyes of the government, for whatever that's worth. Personally, I'm still not quite an adult myself and I kind of hope my children will never really be adults. 

There's a palpable change in my life. I knew it was coming and, while I wasn't ignoring it per se, it definitely caught me by surprise. He slipped out the door to have a cup of coffee with a friend today and Chris turned to me and said, "We have an adult now," and those words cut straight into my belly. The concept was not a surprise, but the moment I truly understood it was. This milestone mirrors, for me, the larger process of parenting. When they're tiny, you obviously understand the logical concept that your children will grow up and leave your home and build their own lives. You know it's coming, but you only really know it in your head. Then your heart starts to slowly awaken to this truth.

I very clearly remember, as a brand new mommy, walking past a mirror with Andrew in my arms and being so surprised at his growth that I purposefully recorded it in my memory. Here he was, still fresh and tiny, but he was growing! His heavy, little head rested on my shoulder and his torso reached down to my ribs, with his little feet tucked in underneath...and he looked so tall. And that's when it started.

The understanding grows quietly and gradually, just as the children do. And then, for me, somewhere around the end of his junior year of high school, I found myself enveloped suddenly and completely by the understanding that he was going to leave. I knew it was coming - I had known it was coming all along, but the real understanding of it was sudden and alarming.

And now we're here. He's an adult. He will be moving into a dorm in a few weeks. These are not bad changes, but they are changes nonetheless, and big changes like these deserve a moment to be recognized, with both tears and celebration.

Truly, I am not sad. If there is any young man well-prepared to set out into his own life, it is Andrew. He has accomplished so much already. He has a passion for music and has excellent plans laid out for his music education in college. He is a scholar and has amassed an impressive academic resumé. He is a leader among his peers and isn't afraid to try new things. He is open and warm and humble and funny. He lives out his faith in a real and approachable way.

So, no - I am not sad. I am proud and I am excited and yes, I'm crying, but I am not sad.

I looked back through my archives to find my thoughts Andrew's 13th birthday and I'm so glad that I did. I remember looking ahead into the uncertainty of parenting teenagers and having hope that it wouldn't be as bad as society told me it would be, and I am happy to say that my time with teens in my house has so far been all I'd hoped for (I still have a few more years with another one in-house). Parenting culture told me to expect the worst from my children during these years and my children have defied those expectations by being the absolute coolest kids I know and my two favorite people in the world. I hope we continue to defy expectations as I walk them to the edge of the nest, let go of their hands, and watch them fly off. 

Ready, set, go!

And so, some birthday words for my Baby Bear Man-Cub Adult Son:
When you were smaller, you would bend whatever rules you had to in order to win. "Accidentally" hitting the reset button on a video game and changing the rules of card games were par for the course when you had the prize of first place in your sights. I hope you carry this idea with you into adulthood. Of course, I don't mean for you to cheat your way to the top, but I do hope that you always question the rules and doggedly pursue your goals without blindly accepting the obstacles that you will encounter on the way. Obstacles can have a nasty way of stopping people in their tracks, and once you've stopped, it's so hard to start back up again. I also want you to know that sometimes, obstacles indicate the need to change course and that it's completely okay to do that. Sometimes, altering your goals or setting them aside for a time to focus on something of greater importance is the right thing to do. Changing course is fine, but just keep moving. Keep something in your sights. Keep learning and keep doing and keep living.

Really living.

Adventure is an essential component of a full life. If you have trouble finding it, make sure you are asking the right question: "Why not?" That question is dangerous and wonderful and always lands me smack-dab in the middle of something I'm not sure I can handle. Which is pretty much where you should always be. You learn the most that way.

You'll be fine, though. You're ready. You can handle this. And when you feel like you can't, come home for a bit and I will make you some cookies.


Mary Kelso said...

I'm so happy you blogged again. I've missed your thoughts in long form, and this was wonderful. Especially that part about parenting culture and expectation. I have set my chin to defy that culture, but it's nice to have your words to bolster me.

congratulations on a job continuing well. God is good.

Becky Nelson said...

Beautiful and awesome! Smiles for Andrew and a BIG hug for you, momma. My Andrew is learning the difficulty of stopping and losing the momentum, but God sends those course corrections as well. You blog so beautifully...wish that you would be "discovered" as the great writer you are :)

Christy said...

Thanks ladies :)