Today, my first born child became a legal adult.
I have tried to put my feelings about this milestone into words many times over the past few days, but every time I sit down to translate these feelings into words, I break down and cry. I have cried so many tears over the past few days. I want to be happy about this new phase in his life. I remember turning eighteen– it was thrilling! I want to be thrilled for my son. But, the thought that in just a few months this child of mine will be free to live the life he chooses is too much for me to process.
Earlier today my son walked into my room when I was looking at a photo album filled with his baby pictures. Tears were streaming down my face.
“Are you CRYING?” He asked.
“Yes! I am crying. I just can’t believe that my sweet little baby is eighteen years old. Why did you have to grow so fast?”
He shook his head and sighed. “Mom, that’s life. Stop crying.”
But I can’t. I just can’t stop crying.
I know these are selfish tears, but I am allowing myself to experience these emotions, to process them. I can only hope that in the very near future I can come to terms with having an adult child.
I can tell you that in spite of the tears, I feel tremendous pride for the son that I have raised. He is kind– a gentle soul. He is considerate, respectful and loving. He is slow to anger, quick to forgive. He has the best sense of humor and isn’t afraid to laugh at himself.
And man, is he good looking.
Happy 18th birthday my Nunu. You are the most wonderful son a mother could ask for. I promise I’ll stop crying. Eventually. Maybe.
After years of me encouraging (possibly also? Nagging.) My First Baby finally put his fears and insecurities aside and tried out for a school play.
He got the part.
He’s been practicing every day- learning his lines, perfecting his expressions. All of those things that actors need to do to get ready for a performance.
Last night, he put on his costume (that I had to pay for out of my own pocket, damn you The Economy!) took a deep breath and said “see you there, Mom!”
I kissed him on the cheek and wished him luck.
When he walked out on stage, I could see his nerves– he was unsure of himself and of his lines. But as he went on, he became more comfortable, more confident.
It was wonderful watching him up there, enjoying himself and all of his hard work. I was so proud of him.
And I could tell by the smile on his face when we greeted him after the show that he was proud of himself. That was the best part for me, really.
Today I dropped my oldest son off at the barber shop so he could get a hair cut. He wasn’t happy about it cutting it, but he has a starring role in a school play tomorrow and so he had to do it. When I dropped him off, I told him to ask for a “trim only.”
Um, either my son doesn’t know how to communicate the idea of “just a trim” or the barber didn’t understand English. Because, you guys, THIS happened.
Luckily, I’ve raised a son who can laugh about things like this. We’ve been laughing about it all night. He MAY not find it as funny in the morning when he has to go to school, but for now, Oh, how we laugh! (For the record, the photo was his idea. Because my kid is awesome.)
Earlier this week, The Middle Child got a perfect score on his algebra quiz. On the way to school, I mentioned the quiz. I told my son I was proud of him and that I was happy he was doing well in that class.
He told me that he struggled in the beginning. “I had a hard time with it at first, but my teacher pulled me and a few others who were struggling aside and helped me understand. Since he did that, it clicked and I’m doing better!”
I told him how lucky he was to have a teacher that did that for him. I then went on to share the story of The Year I Failed Algebra.
I did fine in the beginning of the class, but as things got more complicated, I started to lose my way. I began to feel stressed and panic, thinking I would never understand. My mom tried to help, but she didn’t understand it. She advised me to ask my teacher for help.
I remember walking into her class one afternoon. After she had went over our work for the day, I approached her desk. I told her that I was lost and needed help.
“Read your book.” She said, without even looking up at me.
“I did read the book.” I replied. “And I still don’t get it.”
“Read it again.” She snapped.
“I’ve read it over and over again and I can’t seem to understand.”
At this point, she became irritated with me.
“All I can tell you is the read the book.”
I remember feeling stupid and angry and, like, WHY WON’T SHE HELP ME?
At this point, my Inner Activist came out (I got that from my mom, who once organized a protest in elementary school when she wasn’t happy with things in school.)
“Look!” I said, LOUDLY. “You’re the teacher! You’re here to help me! I’m asking you for help and you won’t help me!”
“Read the book.” She said. Again.
“Fine!” I said. “If you’re not going to do your job as a teacher, I’m not going to do MY job as the student!”
I stormed away from her desk, sat down at mine and put my head down in the I’m Taking A Nap In Class Position.
From that day forward, I did not do another homework assignment. I failed every test. And she never said a word about it.
When my son told me about his teacher– about how he had went out of his way to help him– I knew I had to acknowledge his actions. I came home, looked up his email on the school website and sent the following email to him.
Hi Awesome Teacher Man,
My son, Ethan, is a student of yours. This morning we were talking about algebra– I asked him how he was doing. He told me that in the beginning he struggled, but that you took time to help him and that now he understands and is doing well. He said you’re a great teacher.
I wanted to write you to say thank you for helping my son. I had a horrible experience with algebra in high school, because I had a teacher who refused to help me. (I failed.) Knowing that you took a little extra time to help my son to ensure he “gets it” means a great deal to me. I wanted you to know that.
I wanted to Cc the principal on this email, but I couldn’t find her email address. Feel free to forward it to her and tell her I said the world needs more teachers like you.
Just a minute ago, I received the following email from the principal:
Thank you so much for the kind words you sent to Mr. Awesome Teacher Man. I have been very impressed with Mr.Awesome Teacher Man’s ability to calmly approach a difficult subject and make it accessible to kids. Having you acknowledge his contribution to your son’s success means everything to a teacher. Thank you for your time and encouragement. Awesome, yes?
I’ve emailed teachers in the past, to thank them for a job well done, or for taking extra time to help my child, but I don’t think that I do it often enough. You bet yer’ass that when a teacher does wrong by my child, I make sure they know about it right away. But I’m not always so quick to acknowledge when they’re doing a good job.
That’s going to change. I am going to make more of an effort to let the teachers who are doing it right know that I appreciate them, that what they do matters, to me and to my child.
Last night I was driving The Teenager to church for worship practice. On the way there, we passed a condo we used to live in when he was only a year old.
I slowed down a bit, pointed it out to my son and said “There’s our old house!”
We both looked as we drove by. All of the precious memories came rushing back to me. I remember my son playing with the water hose in the backyard. I remember cheetos scattered on the kitchen floor. I remembered father and son playing guitar on the living room floor. I remember my chunky little son squeezing through the bars on the gate. I remember walks to the swimming pool. I remember sleepless nights, taking turn holding our sick baby. I remember letting our baby “cry it out” as we transitioned him from our bed into his own crib. I remembered playing hide and seek and my son almost always hiding in the bathroom. I remembered my son getting into my mascara and getting it all over the bathroom cabinets, the carpet and his face. I remember crying when our landlord decided to sell it. I remember our last night there, the three of us laying on a mattress on the floor.
It was just the three of us living there in that condo, having the best times of our lives.
I looked over at my son.
“Do you remember living there?”
“Nope.” Punch to my gut.
“Nothing? You don’t remember anything?”
“Not a single thing, Mom.”
I don’t know why it came as such a shock to me– I don’t remember anything about my childhood before the age of 4, but hearing him say that he doesn’t remember “a single thing” about living there knocked the wind out of me.
Some of my most treasured moments with my son are moments he has no recollection of.
Today is September 3rd.
Which means today my first born child is exactly 6 months away from his 18th birthday.
Which means in exactly 6 months I will be the mother of an adult human being.
An adult human being who can use the phrase “YOU CAN’T STOP ME! I’M 18!” if he wants to.
To which I could respond “well then, you can start paying for your own place and your own groceries, Mr. Adult Man!” if I wanted to.
I hope he never does and I hope I never do, because I’m dreading those kind of conversations with my LEGAL ADULT HUMAN BEING.
Other things I dread are more serious, like, my son apparently having made up his mind that he wants to attend a law enforcement academy this fall because he wants to be a cop. He’s been saying that for a while, but I’ve been hoping he’ll change his mind.
All indications are that he’s not going to change his mind. He’s talking about it more and more and telling me the classes he wants to take and criminal justice this and police academy that and oh my delicate heart can not take it because it is too overwhelmed with both pride and fear. At the same time. Because good for you for wanting to protect and serve, son. But also? You could get shot and killed so choose something else please, son.
I swear to Regis Philbin that just yesterday we were having conversations about Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles and how many tickets he had saved for that one prize he was trying to earn at Chuck E Cheeses. And today, we’re talking about graduation and THE POLICE ACADEMY. What? How is this possible?
I try to look at the bright side.
He’ll be earning his own money! He’ll be experiencing the world and all that it has to offer! He’ll be doing important things that will make a difference in this world!
I remember being that age. I remember how excited I was to be so close to graduating and living my life (and for me? “living my life” pretty much meant “marrying PigHunter so I could have all of the sex I wanted every single day!)
I am happy for my son and looking forward to watching him be the man that I’ve raised him to be. But at the same time… tears. So many tears. Because even though I know that in my heart he will always remain my sweet baby boy, the reality is that he is just six months away from being a legal adult.
Good for him. Bad for my heart.
Today The Boy Who Made Me a Mother took his senior portraits.
I was feeling emotional about it, but managed to make it through my morning without shedding a single tear.
He decided he wanted a haircut 2 hours before his appointment. I dropped everything I was doing and ran him down to the barber shop. I sat in the chair as he told the woman what kind of cut he wanted. As he sat there, I admired him from the torn up bench in the waiting area. “What a handsome young man he’s turned out to be!” ! I thought.
I allowed my eyes to wonder around the room a bit and that is when I noticed the little boy. He couldn’t have been more than a year old. His mother sat in the chair with him and held him tightly as the barber carefully cut his hair. He was fussing and his mom was doing everything in her power to help him cooperate.
And that, my friends, is when I lost it.
I started to cry, right there in that old, dirty little barber shop.
Because I remember holding my first baby while he got his hair cut. I remember telling him it was going to be okay while his daddy jumped up and down to try to distract him from the clippers.
I remember those moments like they were yesterday. But they weren’t yesterday. They were years and years ago. And now, that boy I once held in my arms is facing adulthood in just a few short months.
Today, while that mother held her son tightly, I sat across the room, ever aware of how much it will pain her heart to release the tight grip and let that baby go.
Tonight I watched my sons stand in front of a casket, looking down at their childhood friend’s lifeless body. tonight, I watched my boys break down and sob over losing their friend to senseless violence. I’ve never seen The Teenager that broken. In the 17 years that I’ve been a mother, I’ve never felt so helpless. My boys were in pain and I couldn’t take that pain away. All I could do was hug them, wipe the tears away. They need to grieve, they need to feel this. And I hate it. I hate that they have to deal with this in their youth. I am so angry with the monster who caused this pain. My children shouldn’t have to say good bye to a beloved friend at such a young age.
(edit- I’ve decided to stop taking donations for Funeral expenses. Firstly, I was blown away by the generosity. I honestly had no idea that much money would be raised. $1,205.00! You wonderful people never cease to amaze me with your goodness. Second– I believe we may be able to get a good portion of funeral expenses covered through a program designed for victims of crimes. It won’t cover it all, but I believe with what we’ve raised here and through the car washes, the family will not incur any debt over this horrific tragedy. I can’t thank you all enough. I plan on signing every single name of every person who donated to the card I will give the family this weekend. I simply can not thank you all enough. xoxo) (updated- Julia made a great point- “Y — if they have enough money for the funeral, they may like to use our
donations for some kind of memorial to honor their son. That would be
nice too.” If you still *want* to give, you can still do so through my PayPal account at mamarosaATgmailDOTcom. Any and ALL money deposited into that account will go to the family.)
Last Friday night, I told my children that we were going to visit Mikey’s parents. (Read about Mikey here.)
I told them that they didn’t have to come if they weren’t feeling up to it. I wanted it to be their decision. If they went, I wanted it to be because thy wanted to be there, not because they were forced to be there.
They surprised me. In a good way.
“We want to go, Mom.” They said.
We drove over to their house, with a heavy heart. What do you say to a mother who lost her son to senseless violence? What do you say to a father who just lost his only son? There simply no words, nothing you can say.
All you can do is be there. Let them know you love them, you’re thinking of them, you’re crying with them and you’re so very very sorry.
I was glad my boys were mature enough to make the decision to be there for Mikey’s parents, even though it wasn’t easy, even though it was going to be painful.
“Sometimes, the right thing is the hardest thing.” I’ve always told my children that.
They get it.
We all stood in the walkway, waiting for his parents to come out. “They’re not up for it.” A family member told us. “We completely understand.” I responded. “Just give them this card and tell them we are thinking of them.”
He said he was going to tell them and he’d be right back.
“Sue is going to come out.” he said.
Sue is Mikey’s mother.
She opened the screen door and collapsed into my arms. I’m not exaggerating. She literally fell into my arms. I did my best to hold her up. She was sobbing. I was crying.
“I’m so sorry. I’m just so sorry.” I said through my tears.
“I don’t understand. They shot my son in the chest. They left him to die on the concrete.” She wailed. “They won’t let me see my son.”
My husband and my children were standing behind us, as well as some other neighbors and their children. I could hear them all crying.
“And here, I was worried about the war.” She said. “He told me he wanted enlist, he wanted to be a man. I told him no! You’ll get killed!”
I held her up while she cried and wailed and spoke of her hurt, confusion, anger, sadness, unbelief.
It was one of the most *real* moments of my entire life.
When she was finally able to stand on her own, she let go of me and looked around. She saw my son, The Teenager. She walked over to him. “Oh, Andrew” She said as she embraced him tightly. “Mikey loved you so much.” She started to sob again. As did my son. “I loved him too, Susan. I’m so sorry. I’m so so sorry.”
I was heartbroken and yet, so very proud of my son. Proud that he chose to be there for his friend’s mother, even though it was painful and uncomfortable. Proud that he expressed how he was feeling so openly.
I think about that moment with Sue often throughout each day. I think of how broken she was, I think of how her life, her heart has been completely shattered. I can’t even begin to imagine how painful every waking minute of her days must be.
Although our pain doesn’t even compare to that of Sue and Pete, this situation has impacted our family in a profound way. We all feel as though we’ve lost a member of our family. Mikey was part of our lives, he was like family.
Every weekend, my boys were staying the night at his house, or he at ours. Almost every Saturday night, the boys would pile in The Astro Van for a short ride to Mikey’s to spend the night. It was a familiar scene to see our boys walking up the street early Sunday morning with bed head, a plastic bag filled with clothes and their pillows and blankets in hand.
He was at every single one of Andrew’s birthday parties.
I’m devastated he’ll never be at another.
Last weekend, a bunch of Mikey’s friends had a car wash to help raise funds for funeral expenses. They plan on doing another one this weekend. I’ve decided I’m going to try a little fundraising of my own here on this blog. I hate to ask for money from readers, but I hate to think of grieving parents struggling financial due to the expense of burying their child. I know that those of you who read here have generous and kind hearts. I know you’ll understand why I’m doing this.
I have not been asked by any family member to do this. I simply want to do whatever I can to help make their burden a bit easier. If you could find it in your hearts to give, I would be so grateful and I know that his parents will be as well.
I will take donations through Sunday, which is the day of the viewing.
Thank you in advance.
This morning I woke up feeling mixed emotions.
On one hand, I was excited and proud.
On the other, I felt like I had been punched in the gut.
Every year, I write about the complex emotions I feel on this day. Every year I write about how bittersweet this day is. The day I became a mother.
17 years ago. 17 years.
Before I woke him up this morning, I studied his Almost a Man face. Not a trace of the little boy who I used to hold tightly in my arms. “He looks so much like his father now. Where did the time go?” I thought.
Then, strangely, all of his “firsts” came rushing to mind. His first breath, his first time sleeping through the night. His first tooth. His first steps. His first words. His first day in Kindergarten. Then, I thought of all of the firsts still to come. His first job, his first paycheck, his first broken heart.
How lucky I am. I have this incredibly kind, hilarious, talented son that I’ve had the pleasure of raising for the past 17 years. His possibilities are endless! His future is bright! It’s very exciting and I should be SO DAMN HAPPY.
And I am. I truly am.
At the same time… wasn’t it just yesterday that I was cradling him in my arms while rocking him to sleep? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were discussing who his favorite Power Ranger is? Now, we’re discussing prom and his future in law enforcement.
You can understand why my heart is so conflicted, yes?
By the time I climbed in the van to take The Birthday Boy to school, I was a bit of an emotional wreck. “My baby is almost a man! My heart can’t take this!” I thought to myself as I watched him climb into the car.
“You need a haircut.” I said, as we were pulling up to the school.
“I can’t get one, mom.” he responded
“What do you mean you can’t get a haircut?”
“I made a bet.”
“A bet? Oh Lord…”
“If I get a bowl cut, Jordan is going to give me $10.”
I think I said something like “you realize if you get a bowl cut, you’ll have to shave your head to fix things, right?”
“I know, Mom.” He said, in a Very Annoyed Tone.
I wished him a Happy Birthday as he got out of the car.
“That pretty much sums up the experience of having a 17 year old son right there.” I thought to myself.
And then I laughed. And I laughed all the way home.
Because, my son is 17 years old. And while while 17 year olds think they’re so smart and know more than you do about life, he’s still just childlike enough to agree to a bet that involves GETTING BOWL CUT.
Happy Birthday, my sweet baby boy. I do love you more than you could possibly even begin to understand.