It has been a long time since I’ve felt like a first-time mom, or given much thought to a very true truth: our firstborn is the pioneer, the guinea pig. The first through every phase, he gets the best and the worst of our trial and error.
Denial doesn’t actually make time slow down. My mantra of “one more year” worked just fine through the low end of the tween numbers. Until it didn’t.
We don’t have another year. We have hormones and girls (well, a girl) and the discovery that eyes can roll into the very back of your head. We are cracking up at his nearly full-grown sense of humor one minute and confused by the sudden lash-out the next. He can be my biggest help or my greatest challenge through any given day.
Being honest, I’ve felt as lost as I did during those early toddler years. As in, he was two, and I was twenty. Over the last decade, I found my mom stride in so many ways. I gained confidence as I went about the business of raising Bay and his two sisters behind him. This age has put me back at square one. I’ve lost my cool. There’s been much apology between the two of us. I’m reading books, I’m checking in with my village. I’m praying, I’m actively reminding myself to show love even when it doesn’t feel so lovely. I put my favorite old picture of us on the fridge, where I constantly pull out milk and lunch and dinner and snacks each day to remind myself:
That man-child whose feet are bigger than yours; whose voice is newly deeper than yours? He’s still your baby. The one who, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not, declares his mother obsolete; you have to see through it. He still needs your time, your attention, your affection. He also needs some space to figure things out somehow delicately balanced with solid, consistent boundaries. We are both working on it. Mostly me, because adult and all.
This much, though, I know is true: our dynamic may not look exactly the same these days, but whatever the stuff is that binds us together, it’s indestructible.
You are stuck with me, kiddo. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.