Being a mom is hard. Sometimes really, really hard. There's this fine line between being too overprotective and too restrictive, and being too permissive. That line is all too often blurry and hard to decipher. Its an awesome responsibility to have little lives placed in your arms, little beings who look to you for protection, guidance, education, and love. Its an even more daunting responsibility to be the one in charge of allowing them to spread their wings, flying out into a world full of dangers they don't even truly understand. I always thought that it would get easier with time, but it doesn't. Its easy guiding a baby who needs you for everything. It is both eye opening and heart breaking to be guiding a man child who doesn't need you for much at all (except maybe as a taxi driver...or a bank...)
With Lydia's birth, I found myself walking a strange line...the line which balances between my two kids...one who is preparing to leave the nest in too short a time and the other who has just settled in. Being the mom of a teenager AND a toddler has often stretched me to the limits of everything...my patience, my strength, my good judgement and sometimes even my faith. Five years ago, I would have never imagined myself in this position; watching my baby boy grow up way too fast for this mama's liking and starting all over again with a baby girl.
Caleb turns 14 next Tuesday. 14. It doesn't even seem remotely possible despite the fact that he has long since outgrown me and now stands awfully darn close to 6 ft tall, or the fact that he has sprouted peach fuzz on his lip, or the fact that he will be starting high school at the end of August, or the girlfriend who has now been around for an entire year. Wasn't it just yesterday that we were the talk of the hospital...the superhuman mom who gave birth to an adorable 9 lb baby boy? Wasn't it just yesterday that he was a blonde haired blue eyed chubby cheeked cherub? Wasn't it yesterday that his dad and I were giggling about his adorable little mispronunciations, which were too darn cute to correct (lellow, hamsmer, cwash etc)? Where are the scabbed knees and dirty faces? What happened to the days when I had magical kisses that made everything all better? Where did that little boy go? When did he morph into the man I catch glimpses of more and more?
Why hasn't someone figured out a way to stop time?
The realization has sunk in that my days with him are numbered. He already has a life outside of my home that doesn't involve me at all. And I find that, as proud of him as I am, it still completely breaks my heart. I'm not ready to let go. I'm not ready to watch him pack up his car and drive away. I'm not ready to face his empty room, knowing that he will never sleep under my roof again. All things that I know will be happening way too soon. Long before I am ready.
I find myself wishing that I had known 14 years ago the lessons I have learned throughout the last year....that I had been in less of a hurry for him to grow up, that I had just drunk in every second of his life, that I had told him more often when he was little how blessed I am to be his mother. I wish I hadn't been so obsessed with the meaningless drudgery of life and had spent more time crawling around with him, crashing cars, and playing in the dirt, and a thousand other little things that I always intended to do tomorrow...when I wasn't so tired, when I didn't have this or that to do, when it was more convenient. I never realized that time would slip away so quickly and tomorrow would be completely lost in the shuffle of life. I've never been so sorry for those wasted intentions as I am now, watching him grow up and move further and further down the road to independence.
My only excuse is that I didn't know better and that excuse rings hollow to my ears.
Somehow, despite it all, his father and I have managed to raise a pretty awesome young man. I worried incessantly about the damage our divorce would cause him and yet, somehow he seems to have emerged unscathed. I worried about his ability to accept having a sister, sharing me with a little someone who needed so much after so many years of having me all to himself. I worried about how he would deal with the extra challenges she faces, whether he would be ashamed, whether I raised him to be truly accepting of ALL people. I sold him short. He loves his baby sister without reservation, for who she is, and proudly tells everyone that yes, she has Down syndrome, but she is perfect just the same.
I thought I was blessed being his mother before. I thought I was proud to call him my son. Those thoughts don't even compare to the love and pride I have now.
I worried that he would lose an important part of me when Liddy was born....but the truth is, I think that we both regained the most important thing, each other.
Being a mom is a learning process. It never ends. But looking back, I can say, without a doubt, that I am beyond grateful that he was my first teacher.......
I love you, Caleb Daniel. I am more proud to be your mom with each and every passing day.