It’s your birthday eve. It’s storming out. It is supposed to storm through the night and all day tomorrow, so it must be your birthday. Never fails, the Gods throw you a party every year. At least you know that even though you have mono at the moment, the Gods didn’t forget to party it up. That probably doesn’t make up for the fact that you are missing a swim party right now. Sorry, guy.
Sometimes the number of a birthday is shocking. You, sixteen? My baby? The caboose (still my caboose, even though Quinn is here because that is a whole new train). Girls tell you that you look older … like the 22 year olds at Summerfest who you “made the mistake of telling” your real age or the young ER nurse who flirted with you yesterday by tilting her head and saying, “You look older than fifteen, but you know, in a good way.” When she left the room, I rolled my eyes and you started to laugh.
I always find myself scrolling through old photos on your birthdays. You look just so sweet and so beautiful that it’s almost hard to believe that you were such a handful.You were a tough little kid for me to navigate. I wish more than anything that I knew then what I know now about being a mom and that I had just not worried so much or tried to get to you be a certain way. I wish I had more empathy and compassion and patience. I wish that every single time you would lash out at me that I would have just held you and listened. I wish I would have stayed calm. I think you were just trying to tell us all something and didn’t know how. I used to sneak into your bedroom and watch you sleep. You always fell asleep with a little plastic baggie of toys gripped in your hands. I would slowly take your socks off and pick all the crust off of your face and I would just sigh at how absolutely beautiful you were when you were sleeping.
Here is the thing about being a young mom, though. I put a lot of weight on what I was supposed to be doing. I put a lot of weight on what other people thought. I tied my own experience in too closely with yours. I spent so much time apologizing for your behavior (I mean, you know, you were only four when you sucked the lemonade straight out of the thermos at some little girl’s lemonade stand and when I pulled you away, you screamed, “I HATE YOU. FUCK YOU, YOU ASSHOLE”, so I suppose my frustration wasn’t totally unwarranted). I don’t know Will, I am just wasn’t really cut out to have three little kids and work full time.
That said, I really do love having teenagers. We made it to the good part! You are endearing and funny, sharp, insightful, and independent … so independent that sometimes I forget that you really do need me sometimes. For all the time I spent worrying about you when you were four, I rarely worry now. You’ve got this. Just make sure to occasionally let your walls down. Make a mistake or two. It will be okay. Know how proud I am to be your mom. I am in awe of your self discipline, your intrinsic motivation (pretty sure you have gone to the gym more times this summer than I have in my entire life). I love, LOVE watching you play volleyball. I don’t even mind teaching you to drive because your impressions of your drivers ed teacher keep me in stitches. I love that you and Lizzie are such good friends (guess all those years of having to share a room paid off). I love everything about you, kiddo. Even though you requested an Oreo ice cream cake for tomorrow (gross), I still love you.
You were twelve the first time I wrote your birthday on this blog. I wish that I had been smart enough to keep copies of the years prior to that because I just looked back at your letter from four years ago and the picture of you brought tears to my eyes. How, how is is possible that in four years you have grown so much? When I began the search for photos, the first to pop up was the one of you and Lolo. I am going to see that as an angel hello.
Ah, and you are with a sugar cookie. She must certainly be wishing you a sweet sixteen, sweet William. I am too, dearest boy. You are at the very pit of my heart, right where love is born.