I woke up this morning around 5:30am and fear got the best of me. My 12-year old son is now a seventh grader. He’s going to be 13 this year. How is this possible? I understand – and have witnessed – that as he grows, I grow right along with him. Yet when I think about him driving, going to parties, navigating hard decisions and peer pressure, being exposed to drugs, alcohol and social media, having a life without me at his side…it scares me. A lot.
There’s a big part of me that feels sadness seeing my son growing up. My boy who used to say, “mama, hold you” when he wanted to be picked up. The boy who could literally explore the yard all day long. The boy who would wear a batman cape with a tie, cowboy hat and funky socks. My boy who, at night, would belly laugh when I nuzzled my nose into his neck.
With those memories in my heart, I am now gifted with the honor of hearing about his first middle school dance. He asked girls to dance?! He never ceases to surprise me. I love his hand-made cards with the best puns ever. I love his sense of humor.
We watch Parks & Recreation and The Office together and he bought me Airplane! for Mother’s Day. He quotes the same lines from the movie as me when I was his age. I love his gentleness. I love seeing how he began as a disorganized sixth grader to using sticky notes for school reminders. I love his taste in music and how he wants to be a DJ to earn money to buy a phone. I’ve reached the pivotal realization that he knows more than me about a lot of things.
There’s another part of me that is completely scared. I don’t know how I’ll be able to breathe knowing he’s driving. How will I breathe? Knowing that I can no longer protect him…that I have no control. I am terrified of the horror stories of kids dying from synthetic drugs and binge drinking. I pray so hard that when he’s exposed to porn that he loves himself enough to turn away. I pray for joy in his heart and for his future spouse.
More than ever, I am reminded to be here now. We have this one life and many times I fixate on all the distractions. I want to live now because every moment is a gift. Or as Niko said as I was reading this to him, “it’s called a gift because it’s the present.” Thanks, buddy. Another great pun.
Although I’m terrified, my gratitude outweighs my fear. Even though I don’t know what’s in store for us, I know how to love him well. Here are my promises to you, Niko:
- I will always love and support you. Unconditionally. You are enough and you are worthy.
- I will always provide boundaries and responsibilities.
- I’m here to talk through anything. Even the hard stuff. I’m here for you and your friends.
- I will always challenge you to be your best. Which mainly means being kind to yourself and others.
- I promise to put myself in your shoes and remember when I was your age.
- I will always laugh with you. I love laughing with you and I love your sense of humor.
- I will always hug you, grab your hand and tell you I love you.
- I will always ask you to keep talking to me. I keep everything safe in my heart and in my prayers.
As Neil Young says, “you better take your time, my boy. Why are you growing up so fast, my son?”