Thirteen years ago today I became a mom. Thirteen. Can you believe it? I can't. The half-boy/half-man that lives in my house can't possibly be that little bundle of blue that they handed me all those years ago. But if I look closely into his eyes, that now look directly into mine when he stands flat footed in front of me, I see him. I see that tiny baby who made me a mom and taught me that it was possible to live with part of my heart walking around outside my body.
I remember thinking, as we drove away from the hospital, how weird it was that they were letting us take this little creature home with us. Didn't they know or care that I had no idea how to take care of a baby? Did they really think I was capable of raising this child? Could this person, this tiny little being, be real? And be a part of me? But mostly I was wondering what in the world I was supposed to do now. But, lo and behold, I did okay. I fed him a lot and changed him a lot and held him a whole lot. I stared at his little face and treasured the moments in my heart.
Then he turned two. He was walking and talking and playing and being a big brother. He was smart and adorable. And still I wondered what I was doing thinking I could be a mother. But we made it through those times, too. I fed him, although he ate like a bird. And I changed him, because he refused to go potty. And I still held him close, because he was a snuggler. And I treasured still more moments with my little boy.
Then he turned five. And he started school. And I was his teacher and was glad to spend my mornings with him and his classmates. It wasn't always easy. He was what the experts call "strong willed." But we survived and he learned to read and I learned to love him in a whole new way. And I made his lunches and washed his school clothes. And laid with him every night when I tucked him in because he asked me to. And right along with him, my collection of treasured moments grew.
Then he turned 10. Double digits. It was amazing to me. My little boy wasn't such a little boy anymore. There were moments of something more. Something different. Conversations and questions and actions that weren't one bit child-like. And yet there were moments that were completely child-like. One foot in childhood and one foot climbing the fence to tween-dom. Not quite over the fence, but standing on the top rung. And so I held his hand as he climbed, when he would let me. I still fed him and had to learn to cook a little extra as he grew. And I hemmed and then let out his pants. And I still laid with him every once in a while and wished and waited for the nights he would ask me to. And treasured every one of those moments, too.
And now, today, he turns thirteen. Tall as me. Feet too big to wear my shoes (and even almost his daddy's). Opinions all of a sudden on clothes and hair and girls. (Yikes!) Phone calls and texting and wanting to be on Facebook. All things that I thought wouldn't be here quite so soon. But it's here. The teens. And all that comes with it. A teenaged friend asked me the other day how I was feeling about Josh turning 13. And I told her honestly, "I'm freaking out!" I have no idea how to mother a teenager! None. But the truth is, I didn't know how to mother an infant or a toddler or a preschooler or a tween either. I just did it. And so far we've both survived. So that's my plan. Do what I can and pray for the best. For him. For me. For us. And I will keeping feeding him, although he may eat us out of house and home. And clothing him, although buying men's clothes for him gives me a panic attack. And snuggling him every chance I get, because he still lets me do that as long as no one is watching. And I will hold close all those treasured moments while adding new ones. Bigger ones.
As we enter this new part of our journey together, I am nervous, yes. But also excited to see what the future holds. Who he is. Who he is becoming. Who he will be. And every step of the way I'll be there. Doing everything I can and everything he needs me to do to get him to 14 and 17 and 20...and, someday, to Heaven.
Happy, happy, happy birthday my sweet Josh. Mama loves you more than words can say. Even though you're a teenager now.