My oldest child turned 21 on Tuesday. I am now, technically, the mother of a full grown adult person. We celebrated with his favorite dinner, apple pie, and then dad took him out for his first beer (wink, wink).
Sifting through the thousands of memories that have accumulated in my brain since he arrived on a beautiful March morning, so many things stand out. First steps, temper tantrums, hot wheel cars, hockey practices (oh, so many hockey practices). Playing on the beach, soccer games, arguments, handing over the keys, graduations.
Parenting is the hardest work. Nothing and nobody can prepare you; it's the ultimate on the job training. Just when you think you've got things figured out, those little creatures up and grow, and a new challenge comes along. And as millions who have come before me would agree, I wouldn't change a thing.
But... I wish I'd known what an amazing young man he would grow to be. That I'd had a magic mirror, showing me the far off future, letting me know that all would be well.
I wish I'd known that the newborn days, although exhausting and terrifying, don't last long. I remember praying he would stay asleep just a few minutes longer, that he wouldn't cry every time I stopped pacing. Worrying if he was getting enough milk, wondering if I'd ever have my life back.
I wish I'd known that four year olds are the most charming creatures. So much enthusiasm for everything, all of the questions, all of the love. His energy was exhausting, and some days I wondered if he would ever sit still and be quiet. Worrying that he had ADD, or was this just normal bouncy boy behavior?
I wish I'd known that 8 year old boys are my favorite. Old enough to have serious conversations with me, but still needing a hug and a snuggle at the end of the day. So rough and tumble. School was a challenge, and we argued every single night about homework. Worrying that he wasn't understanding math. What would become of him if he couldn't conquer arithmetic?
I wish I'd known that the teen years, although definitely more challenging than baby days, would go by just as quickly. Defiant and defensive one minute, loving and sweet the next. Still so full of boy energy, but growing into a sensitivity that surprised me. Worrying about his grades, and what was he going to do with his life?
Back in the days when I was exhausted, unsure, and frustrated, I wish I'd known that everything would be okay. Maybe I wouldn't have spent so much time worrying. I would have enjoyed the newborn, the toddler, the little boy, and the teenager more.
I would have known that things end up just as they are supposed to. That he would learn, and grow, and make mistakes, and figure things out, and move on.
I would have known that his 21st birthday would come, much sooner than I hoped, and he would be kind, patient, witty, persistent. Totally focused and passionate about where he's headed. Strong and smart and thoughtful.
I wish I'd known then, but I'm glad I know now. He's a man that I'm so proud to call my son.
I'm linking up today (finally!) with the talented writers at Finish The Sentence Friday. The prompt this week was "I Wish I'd Known". I hope they let me come back again!