As we get ready for Brian to start middle school, I find myself totally overwhelmed. Twelve-going-on-thirteen is a rollercoaster. Sometimes my son is incredibly annoyed by every member of our family (mostly me) and is steadfastly stubborn in his belief that everyone else is living a life much better and grander than his own. At other times, he’s all sweetness and light…appreciative and complimentary and bubbling up with pride about our family. During these times, he hugs me without any reason at all and dances with me in the kitchen, and I soak it all in because I don’t know how long I’ll have him like this.
I have always been someone who soaks in these experiences, though. I remember dancing with him when he was a baby and making mental pictures of how wonderful that was…I did not want to forget a thing. I can honestly say that I have made the most of the time we’ve had. We danced, and read stacks of books, took long walks, and played musical games I still remember with such pride and joy. I volunteered at school and cheered him on at most every game he’s played, every recital, everything he’s done.
But now it feels at times like real separation unlike any we’ve experienced to this point, and I know that’s as it should be. The development books say that the closer the bond is, the more an adolescent feels they have to make a stand at times to make a separation happen. I totally get that. Still, I drop him off to golf practice with his clubs and a cell phone…this young man almost as tall as me with his shaggy hair in his eyes under a baseball cap, and I still think, “that’s my baby”.
I haven’t been able to put my anxiety about all of this into words…it’s just been a kind shapeless dread that feels like the flu actually. I know my job is to raise him to be the man God intended for him to be, and in fact, that’s what I promised God I’d do while we waited for Brian during those two years of infertility. Last night’s reading in my “One Year Bible” (Psalm 40:1-10) reminded me of the day I learned I was finally pregnant, and how being someone’s mother has changed me profoundly in ways I could not have predicted. I am now someone who stands up and speaks up. I am someone who tries to be a voice for children in my community. I am open about the faithfulness of God and I try to share my gifts. Long after Brian has grown, I’ll still have all of that, and the scores of lessons he’s taught me, and just the beautiful imprint of his life on mine.
But it seems we’ll dance less and less. Though we’ve impacted each other’s lives so intimately, we are now like two boughs growing from the same trunk. He’s got to go his own way, and I have to let him (and sometimes prune him!), but my God, it’s hard.