It crept up on us, but here we are. My older son is now a senior in high school. He took senior pictures a couple weeks ago and that is when the reality sank in. Then, there was his new car. He leaves every morning on his own and returns home on his own. He no longer needs me to take him from point A to B. The finish line is almost here. And, then there is college and one of these days, he will have his own place and I won’t be picking up after him. He barely needs me now and soon, he won’t need me at all. And that is a good thing. It means I did well. So, I am amazed, proud and sad all at the same time.
My son who I have raised all on my own since he was 3 months old is almost an adult and writing those words brings tears to my eyes. They are happy and sad tears all at the same time. Sad that the time flew by so fast, but happy and proud of the amazing young man he has become.
My amazing son was raised by his single mother- ME. For almost 18 years, I did this all on my own. Family will say they helped, but their help was very little, judgmental and/or not helpful at all. And that is what most families tend to do. My parenting was constantly judged and pulled under a microscope. But despite the criticisms I received, he turned out to be respectful, polite, honest, kind, generous, and this absolutely, amazing human being. He is also stubborn with a heart of gold and this is one my most favorite things about him. I pat myself on the back every day because I did a damn good job.
There has been many years of trials and errors and highs and lows – so many times when I thought I was failing miserably. I loved that amazing young man even when he hated me. He has never had a father in his life, but you ask him, he says he never missed out and I gave him more love than both a mother and father could. He reminds me daily I am the only parent he has ever needed and hearing those words especially helps on the days when I feel inadequate in both my parenting and as a person.
Here he is almost an adult (he will be 18 in a few months). The saddest and hardest part – for me at least – is I wish his grandmother – my mother – were here to see what a wonderful young man he is becoming. It has been over a year since we lost her and missing her hasn’t gotten easier. Graduation is just around the corner and this is a milestone, I wish Mom was here to see. But I know she is up there smiling and proud – not just of him, but of me as well.
What Mom may not have known when she was alive is that I learned to be a strong single mother by watching her. She was 43 when Dad died leaving her with a 4-year-old and 4 teenagers and she did the best she could with what was handed to her. She is reason I am able to raise my kids alone. When I lost her, I was afraid I couldn’t do it without her- any of it – but I have and I continue to because of the lessons she taught me.
Here we are, nearly at the finish line – my almost adult son and me. I look at that young man who towers a foot over me and I feel immense pride. I never expected – or wanted – this time to get here so fast but it did. As a small child, he was always one step ahead of me, always running in front of me, instead holding my hand and walking next to me.
I will never forget the day when he was seven and said he was too old to call me “Mommy” and it was “Mom” from that point forward. Or when he was nine and told me that big boys don’t cry and he’s rarely shed a tear in my presence since. Or every single time he didn’t understand why I wasn’t ready to send him out on his own. He thought it was a lack of trust, rather than worry and fear. He has always trying to grow up so fast, trying to be older, wiser and more mature. And for all the times, he gave me better advice than most of the adults in my life, I should have known then how grown up he already was, but I wanted him to be my baby forever. As much as I tried to keep him younger, he persisted and here we are.
This morning, as he got in his own car, waved goodbye, and headed off to school, I tried to hold the tears back. I smiled and whispered to myself, “You did good …. No, you did better than good – you excelled.”