Isaiah turned thirteen this past weekend. Thirteen years ago he made me a mom. Thirteen years I’ve spent loving and watching this little person grow. Thirteen years.
I couldn’t wait to be a mom. I couldn’t wait to have babies. I was that girl who played with dolls just a little too long and more than anything in the world I wanted to be a mom. When I found out Isaiah was coming I anticipated him for months. Rocking in the nursery rocker singing softly to him. Pulling out his little onesies to hold up against my growing tummy. Folding and refolding those tiny sleepers. Staring around his adorable little nursery. Opening the lotion for a good, long whiff. Holding those itty bitty newborn diapers softly between my fingers. Imagining what it might be like to have an actual baby. My baby. I just couldn’t wait!
And then he came. And time stood still. Suddenly nothing else in the whole world mattered except that moment there with him. I will never forget how that felt. Staring into the face of my new baby boy. The very first instant I became a mom. That love. It was like everything and nothing I could’ve imagined.
I remember how that first day seemed to stretch out forever before me. How hyperaware I was that this was the very first day. How I looked at him and hoped somehow he would never feel sad or scared or lonely. How I stared and somehow managed to see a glimpse of all the moments that lay ahead…baby milestones, learning to walk, trips to the park and pushing on the swings, preschool, learning to ride a bike, soccer games, losing a tooth, kindergarten round-up, Christmases and birthdays, vacations, new friends and new houses, getting glasses then later contacts, middle school, pitching at baseball, making the basketball team, his first dance, learning to drive, high school, the ACT, college applications, graduation, his wedding day…on and on and on.
In the beginning I was so incredibly earnest. With so many other things in my life running so totally and completely out of control THIS was the thing I was going to get right. This mothering thing was the one thing I would get perfectly.
But in only a few days or weeks (okay months or years) I realized I wouldn’t quite be the perfect mom I had hoped to be. And I realized this mothering thing was just another area I needed to let go of perfection and control. All too often I get tired and short tempered and annoyed and end up saying or doing exactly the wrong thing leaving me feeling like a gigantic mom failure! And no matter how hard I try I can’t control a baby’s temperament or little boy’s personality or big kid’s likes and dislikes or middle schooler’s little quirks.
It turns out my job doesn’t include molding and manipulating and controlling a little person into becoming exactly who I envision he should be.
It turns out no matter how hard I try, I can’t keep him from feeling sad or scared or lonely. I can’t shield him from LIFE…and in truth, sometimes those hard moments build the greatest parts of our character.
And it turns out his job isn’t to fulfill my emotional needs or become who HIS MOM needs him to be in order to make me feel like a good mom.
My job is to be his mom. That constant presence showing him with all my words and actions that I will always, always support him. Even when I don’t agree with his choices. Even when he fails. Even when I screw up too. Even along this messy, imperfect journey called life.
And his job is to become himself.
How incredibly beautiful it is to watch someone become himself.
We let him go with his friends to this gaming place for his birthday and he stayed until 11pm. Dan went to pick him up and I wanted to be awake when he got home so I pulled out his baby book. I was reminded again of that very first day. Of that glimpse. And I saw in the pictures that perfect love right there on my face.
Isaiah came in then and sat on my bed in the dim light to tell me excitedly all about his night. I’ll remember forever his animated (now deeper) voice and how he talked with his hands. I’ll remember his black-framed glasses and Adidas shirt and gray hoodie and joggers. I’ll remember how his face is exactly the same as the day we first met…tiny dimple in his chin, almond-shaped eyes, faint birthmark on his right cheek, hair cowlicks making a heart-shaped frame around his face. I listened and smiled and asked questions and responded. It was the EXACT moment he turned thirteen.
As he stood up for bed I wished him ‘Happy Birthday’ and then Dan and Isaiah and I had a cheesy little group hug. Dan exclaimed, “Oh, I think he’s taller than you Mom!”. So we measured and he was! We compared in the bathroom mirror. Last week he wasn’t. Today he is.
My little boy is a teenager. And he’s taller than me. And even though I’m scared to death I’ll have no idea how to parent a teenager (the beginning of 18 consecutive years I’ll have parenting at least one teenager!) I’m convinced somehow I’ll come out okay. We both will.
Because I’ve decided neither one of us have to be perfect. I’ve decided I’m going to enjoy the next five years with my first little boy before he leaves home. I’ve decided to keep my eyes open wide for the moments I saw in that glimpse on the very first day and really feel and notice and memorize as they pass by.
And I’ve decided to fall back on that love. Love. It truly can be perfect. It doesn’t need any manipulation or cajoling or control. It just IS. That love is the ONLY THING that really is perfect.
I’ve decided I’m going to spend the rest of my life just loving and watching this person grow a little more himself every day. What a blessing!
Thirteen years already!