The Slow Break Up

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I’ve heard it said that raising a son is like a slow, painful break up. I have to agree with that. Today my Luke is 17. I’ll say, my, until it is no longer appropriate. i.e…when a woman steals his heart. He stole mine 17 years ago.

Thank you for humoring me six times a year as I reminisce during birthday season in my home. I call it a season because I have no children’s birthdays from January – June. Two in July, one in October, two in November, and one in December. By the way the two in November are right at Thanksgiving time, and the one in December is three days after Christmas. I drink a lot around the holidays.

Raising a son is different than raising a daughter…obviously. For mothers, as our sons begin to really grow up, we start to feel a separation. I could sit down next to my 26 year old daughter, and play with her hair while we talk if I wanted to. It wouldn’t be weird to her. I don’t actually do that, but you know what I mean. We can snuggle up and giggle about life if the mood strikes and we desire to. With a teenage son, not so much. Although I want to. The bond never ends, but it is only natural for a son to start to break away so he can learn to live his life on his own.

I want to lay my head on his shoulder, let the tears flow, and beg him not to join the National guard next summer as he wants to. I want to tell him I’ll always take care of him, and he need never leave home. I’d also suggest that driving is over rated and I will happily drive him anywhere he needs to go. Please just stay off the road.

But alas, I will not do those things. I will suck it up and pretend that my heart isn’t full of fear, as time keeps flying by…tormenting me with each passing year, each growth spurt, each lower octave of his voice, and each step toward complete independence.

My Luke has a heart as big as his 17 year old bulky biceps. For a mom, when a son is strong, yet compassionate and empathetic, our hearts ache as we have to let them out into this world. Am I right, moms? In our eyes it is like throwing the perfect, untarnished man to the wolves. Please don’t hurt him. Please world, don’t break that beautiful heart.

He may die of embarrassment when he reads this. Sorry Luke. Mom is a writer – comes with the territory.

When he was a toddler, I had to rock him to sleep. Rather, I had the privilege of rocking him to sleep. I always had long hair, and he loved to hold onto my hair when I rocked him. If my hair was up, he would point to it, make some sort of grunting noise, and I would smile and let it down, because as mothers we cater to their every whim. Fine with me…just let me rock you in that chair for as long as possible.

To this day we tease him about it. And to this day, once in a while I catch him twirling his own hair when he is tired. It takes me right back, and I see the cutest little toddler, obsessed with John Deere and dirt.

He’s still adorable in my eyes and always will be. He still loves things with wheels – he’s just moved on from tractors, and prefers things like Mustangs and motorcycles. I intend to hand down my minivan to him some day. Sorry bud.

I am terrified that he is military bound, but not surprised at all. I have seen it coming since he was about 4 years old. He’s bound and determined to be a Marine, and I am sure he will excel at that. He is tenacious and I have encouraged that spirit in him. Not even for one second will I try to talk him out of it. That isn’t my job. My job is to give him guidance, wings, and support him as he flies in his direction…not mine.

I think some parents miss out on a great joy when they push their children in the direction they think they should go. There is nothing more fulfilling to me than to see my grown children find their way. That’s the goal. The goal is to give them confidence to do life on their terms.

So this morning I got up bright and early to hang the traditional, “Happy Birthday” sign over the table, put Luke’s favorite meal in the crockpot, and bake him his gluten free chocolate mint cake, which he requested. On a side note, I hold the world’s record for baking the most chocolate mint cakes each year. By December I can’t eat another bite.

We will sing happy birthday this evening, and he will open his gifts, which now consist of cards full of cold, hard cash, because that’s what 17 year old’s want. We will smile and giggle, and he will roll his eyes as we all sing, because it is always sung too slow and sounds awful. I try to pick up the pace but no one follows. I give up.

As I smile and giggle, I will be crying inside. I am so proud of him, and I love watching him grow into this amazing person he is becoming…patriotic, caring, protective, unselfish, and determined. But I just don’t know where the time went. Life’s great mystery, right? Where does it go? I remember the delivery room like it was yesterday. We never found out ahead of time what we were having. I liked the surprise. When the doctor announced, “It’s a boy!,” Luke commenced to peeing on the nice man. His tenacious spirit was made known within seconds of being born. He’s been making me laugh ever since.

We’ve been through a lot together, bud…potty training, stitches, scrapes and bruises, heartache, break ups, school closings, disappointments, celebrations, and many more to come. I’ll always be your momma, and I’ll always think you’re perfect. Happy birthday.

≠©Melissa Nicholson All Rights Reserved

I will suck it up and pretend that my heart isn’t full of fear, as time keeps flying by…tormenting me with each passing year, each growth spurt, each lower octave of his voice, and each step toward complete independence.