Tomorrow...or today if you are reading this on June 5th...my son, Brian, is turning 21 years old. And this is my baby, folks. His big sister turned 23 in January. That was tough...but I spent a lot of time being proud of the fact that she finished the University of Alabama's marketing program in four years, got herself employed, and last week...she closed on a house...I don't really tend to dwell on how old she is too much. Plus...she is my oldest.
Yet, while I was doing the "celebration dance" over there...something insidious was happening over here. My youngest was turning into a legal adult by every standard that the government recognizes. He is old enough to do most anything that he chooses to do. Thankfully, he isn't interested in celebrating this monumental event by hosting a giant "throw down" because that's not how he rolls.
But yes. Twenty-one. The big 2-1. Or as we say in the South..."that boy is grown." Of course, I've seen signs of this "grown-ness" for some time now...in the mature way that he tells the truth whether I want to hear it or not. How he hops up to open the car door for Brecksyn every time she gets in and most of the time for me as well. I've watched him work since he was 16...fight the health difficulties that he's experienced from time to time...and just forgive a lot of people for overlooking what an incredible, awesome person he is.
That's their loss, by the way. Seriously. So many other people have taken the time to tell me how much they think of Brian...that I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard it.
But as I think about him turning twenty-one tomorrow...I have to think back to the day before he was born when I was sitting cross-legged on the stained tan carpet in my living room in Deerfield watching a breastfeeding tape and crying because I was scared. Not of the actual getting him here part...I'd been down a much tougher road with Jill...but of what I was going to do with him once he arrived.
I grew up in a house of women. I knew not what to do with a young male child who would be a completely foreign creature in almost every way. And if you knew what Jill was like at age 2...I was honestly afraid that I couldn't handle them both. I was hoping he'd be as sweet as one nephew and as fun as the other one. I tried to prepare myself because I'd been happy just being his Mom carrying him around for nine months.
I needn't have worried.
God knows what we can handle...and for reasons known only to Him...in His infinite mercy and love for me...he gave me Brian. The child who never cried unless he seriously needed something, didn't demand attention, and whose worse faults have always been a bit of eating pickiness, an inability to see a mess that is downright obvious to the other 99% of the population, and an exhausting tendency to procrastinate to such a degree that our interactions at times make me look like a Jerry Springer contestant screaming "Oh, no you didn't..."
Because often it was because, well, he didn't. And he should have.
In the grand scheme of things...he'll also tell you that 99.9% of any drama that we have had between us over the past 21 years is due to one of those three things. Not coming in at an ungodly hour, getting arrested, or even having a cocktail when he was underage. He did none of that.
Yeah, that messy room is looking far better now that I think about it. Just don't tell HIM that. I remember putting him in his room at age 5 and telling him that he couldn't come out until he cleaned up his toys. I checked on him every so often...and he'd be happily sitting in his room playing. An hour later...the room was far worse looking than it was when I put him in there...but he was happy. Bless his messy little heart.
I can honestly sit here and tell you that the little boy that they put in my arms 21 years ago has been one of the biggest joys of my life. He has made me proud watching him grow up and handle everything thrown at him with grace. I've looked at his sweet face with the darling dimples and wondered what in the world I did right to make me lucky enough to be his Mom. Some days I feel like the stork made a mistake. But then I see his father's eyes and the traces of my mother's face in his...and I know he's ours. Thankfully.
I am amazed at the fact that he can do things like calculus and physics and actually understands them. That he can take anything apart and put it back together...and that he can figure out how to make money when he needs to. How he can imagine something and figure out a way to bring it to fruition. That he can draw something that actually looks like what he intends. How every person that he comes into contact with tells me what a wonderful human being he is.
And he is.
I suppose that there's a part of me that feels like I do when I clean the kitchen and hang the damp towel to dry right before I turn out the light. The job is done. My children are grown. Oh, I think that they still need me and I'm sure that there are many more adventures in front of us...but I have seen the tiny glimpses of what he was going to be when he was a tiny little guy who ran everywhere instead of walking meld into this wonderful son of mine. I know that God will use him to do mighty things in this life...because he belongs to Him. And while I know that one day, he will need me even less than he does today, I also know that there's a small part of him that will always be my boy. Today I am seeing him sit on the couch with his sweet girlfriend...watching a movie and laughing. He's leaving enough of a "kid" here so that I don't feel like I have to panic...yet.
Not that he ever needed much from me other than to give him the occasional hug and tell him how awesome he is. Which, truth be told...really wasn't that hard. And between us...I think that it was really me that needed the hugs. In fact, I'm quite certain of it.
Tomorrow he will be 21...and the beautiful little blond curly haired boy of my memories has been replaced by a grown up, handsome, brunette, capable man who makes me proud every day of my life.
Happy Birthday, son. Know how much I love you and how many dreams of mine you have already fulfilled. I cannot wait to see how you navigate the coming years and how wonderful your life turns out to be. You deserve every single bit of everything amazing that comes your way. You truly do.
I'm just grateful that I am your Mom. Today and every day.