Technically, you aren’t fifteen until 2:44pm today, significant in that you were born exactly sixteen minutes before the doctors were going to throw in the towel and perform a c-section. I tell you this every birthday: I believe you were waiting for the stars to turn from Cancer to Leo, which you did they did with three minutes to spare, but what I love about you most is that you have the best traits of both signs. Happy birthday to my nurturing Cancer and mighty Leo. Fifteen.
You have grown about four thousand inches this summer, towering over me now… still a pup though, lanky with giant paws. A Great Dane in the making. Fourteen was a beast of a year (you were hit by a car, for crying out loud) and I am betting you are excited to move on. I have always loved your birthday the most because it is nestled into the heart of summer when I am not distracted by school and life and chaos. Nine times out of ten, it thunderstorms on your birthday .. the Gods up there must be having quite the party.
When I look at you, I always think of the Cat Stevens lyric, “It’s not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy. You’re still young, that’s your fault,” mostly because you are so impatient with the steps it takes to get to adulthood. I think you have always known that you are ready to be twenty-five. You have asked me forty times this summer if you can just skip the rest of high school.
When I was getting a pedicure the other day, I spent the hour playing fake lottery games on my phone, pressing the same button over and over again. I know that is how school has always felt to you. Still, you have made some pretty great friends this year. Suddenly you, like your sister, are never home. Yesterday you went cliff diving at red granite quarry. I didn’t want you to go. You were not deterred by my text that listed the death statistics from that place. I feel the same way when you go jump on trampolines at Helium or skateboard down the middle of the street. I know the dare devil that lives in you. Faster, higher, more. You are waiting for life to feel more like an adventure and less like a chore. Hate to break it to you, but that is pretty much the definition of fifteen.
There are parts that I love about fifteen. I love the group text that we share with your older siblings. Lizzie changed the title of that chat to “Fake pot is bad pot,” because it is filled with articles of me worried about the dangers of the world at large. In it, I literally say, “If you are gonna smoke pot, don’t smoke the fake shit. It is dangerous.” It is super hard to be a parent of teenagers … not because you guys are tough, but because the worry that comes with you wedging your way into adulthood is sometimes crushing. That is okay, though. It’s one of the many lessons about letting go that I am learning. I catch myself holding my breath. Your hunger for adventure reminds me to release that, to trust, and to replace worry with the incredible love that I hold for you.
Still, even though you are in the in-between, with your foot on the accelerator, I still think of you like this:
I hope that in all of your adventures, of which I am sure there will be many, that you always remember to listen to that boy. The voice that lives inside of you is loud and trustworthy. Last week you told me that you hate emotions. Emotions are stupid, you said. I imagine that they do feel that way right now. Sometimes, I too, would rather dive off of a cliff than feel them deeply.
The Avett Brothers warn us, “Nothing happens here that doesn’t happen there/When you run, make sure you run to something and not away from…” My wish for your year ahead is that you continue to weave a net of friends and mentors that will always make you feel like you are home, so that when you leap, we are at your core. I love you more than you will ever know or believe. The earth goes around the sun, tralala, the earth goes around the sun … no dragging of my feet will slow it down.
Looking forward to celebrating with you tonight. Meatballs and banana cream pies. xoxo