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Happy Birthday Nicholas

“Twenty years is, after all, a long time.  We are not the same people we were.  Old friends, lovers, even family members; they are strangers who happen to wear a familiar face.  We have no right to claim to know anyone after such a distance …” – Graham Joyce from Some Kind of Fairy Tale

But I do know my son.  There has been no distance. 

I’ve had some people say to me, “Let him grow up!” As if I haven’t been.  Or, “Get your own life” as if I haven’t had one.  

Yet, if they found themselves before someone who was suddenly without their partner after 18 years of a constant shared life – would those be the same sentiments offered?  “Let them go!”  “Get your own life now!”

I would hope not.

Even someone who just lost their pet after so much time would be treated kinder than that. 

I know I am not losing my son – but this is the beginning of the end of how things have been for many, many years.  And before long, I won’t have the right to say I know him.  Not the way I do now. 

And that’s as it should be.  I know this.  I am not stupid.

He was never mine, after all, I merely had the honor of raising him for the world.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes.  But I can with utmost certainty look back at my life and my son will never have been one of them.

It has just been he and I for most of these 18 years.  And he was my life.  Shouldn’t a child be a parents number one priority? 

Not putting myself first led me to a happier heart and a wiser soul.  I’ll never understand why some children are born into the world to be tolerated and not adored. 

Nic was my purpose.  And being his mom is my pleasure, not some thief of my own time.  

From the moment I felt him kick and hiccup – I loved my baby.  I did not want to know the sex. Upon hearing “It’s a son” in the hospital room, March 31st, 1995, I became Nicholas Avery Charles’ mother. 

What an amazing experience it’s been! 

I remember when I was little wanting to be an archeologist – perhaps a teacher – a writer – a rock star?  My interests changed as I grew, but the one constant was knowing I wanted to be somebody’s mom.

This is so hard! My sixth attempt at this post.  I haven’t been able to find the right words! 

I so wanted this to be the post I look back on as my best.  I am writing this to the most important person in my life after all.

I tried just typing, but got so caught up in memories I couldn’t do them justice.

Weighed the options of humor or  taking the mushy route and waxing poetic …

Then while reading, the quote I opened with sent me back to the computer.

So, let’s begin.

Nicholas Avery Charles – today you are 18.

You’re on the precipice of something great.  You’ll make your way and your own decisions – but you’ll never be alone.  I will always be here for you. 

I will never stop being your mom.

Never stop wishing the best for you.

Never stop supporting your dreams and goals. 

I love you so very much bird.

I’ll try really hard NOT to use the following sentence: “If you want to be treated like an adult, you had better start acting like one!”  I hated that. 

You don’t suddenly go to bed 17, liking video games, anime and being catered to then wake up 18 with brand new interests and a sudden overnight maturity. 

I want to tell you Thank you.  Because what you’ve given me just by existing is the largest love I’ve ever known and the most educational experience I’ve ever had, and the strongest bond I’ve ever had with another human being.

Thank you for being my memories, my todays and my hope for the future.  I look at you and know that the world will be just fine with people like you in it.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your teens – it’s so odd isn’t it?  Technically an adult, still a teenager.  It’s hard to know what is expected of you.  Well, I personally expect nothing of you.  You are right where you are supposed to be, being just who you are meant to be. 

There is no right way to be 18. 

Make some memories, dream and try not to do anything you’ll wish you could erase upon looking back.

Read books.

Listen to your heart.

Expand your mind.

Have compassion and try not to judge.

Smile and know, you are enough.

Because you are – and you always have been.

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And hey …  1,2,3’s and I know you’re not 15 … but I hear this song and think of you.  Love you so very very very very much.  – Mom. xxxxx

3, 2, 1 … Wait! Stop!

pause

The day after Christmas reminded me of the way my house  used to feel after a party.  Back when I had such things.  Rooms peppered with gift remnants, me stepping over boxes and paper, dessert type foods left to dry out on the counter tops.   Hoping everyone had a great time and dreading the task of taking down the decorations and cleaning up.  A part of me glad it’s over for 1 more year.

3 days after Christmas and all I had the energy to take down were the cards.  My advent calendars stood baring their empty molds through wide open doors.

I cleaned up this weekend.  I have another holiday affording me time off to do so – New Years.

A lot has happened this year … I think of the highlights.  My son got his driver’s license, I started this blog, I got a new-to-me car,  my son had his first accident in aforementioned new-to-me car.  There was Homecoming, ‘end of the world’ survival and right around the corner is 2013.

2013 is going to be a big year.  Nic will turn 18, there will be prom and  graduation (omg … GRADU-Flipping-ATION!).  I’m not ready.  I shall cling to this remaining day of 2012 like a toddler on its parents leg.

The unknown is waiting.  I don’t do well with ‘the unknown’.

I had a another taste of things to come last night.  Nic spent the night out and I was finishing a disturbing book.  I squinted at the clock on my bedside table and it was nearing midnight.  I’m not afraid of the dark (anymore) and I’m not afraid of ghosts (anymore) but there’s something about ‘the strike of midnight’ that makes me feel like I should have my eyes squeezed shut and not witness it.  A macabre Cinderella complex if you will.

I wanted to finish my book though – so I did.  Butters growled at something I hadn’t heard.  That’s always disconcerting – the low rumble of concern from a creature with hearing much more than you’re capable of picking up.

I was alone in the house and at the tail end of a cold.  I had spent the better part of two days thinking when I wasn’t reading.

I even wrote a letter to a friend.  A real one, you know, with a writing utensil and paper.

I’m feeling nostalgic about the past 17 3/4 years and while I’m grateful and mostly content – there’s something in me on the verge of panic.

I’ve been looking around me lately and finding things I feel are lacking. My furniture is sparse, even in relation to the small rectangle I call home.  Anything I had of value I sold.  I don’t regret it, but there’s nothing here I’d pass down through my family.

I think about my job – the job I am blessed to have.  But I have no health insurance, no 401K.  Am I destined to be a greeter at Wal-Mart when I’m into my 60’s?  Never being able to retire?

I thought about being alone.  Yesterday I noticed my left front tire needed air and a fleeting thought ‘I have no one to ask to do that for me’.  It’s always me – doing everything.  Alone.

I thought about my health.

I thought about just about everything.

Have I done enough?  Have I provided enough?  Have I taught enough?

With 2013 looming I’m coming a little unhinged.  Not losing my marbles, just examining them.

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I cleaned my sons room last night – found remnants of his childhood in the form of Pokemon cards and old school work. Clothes that used to fit him are now in a box for Goodwill.

No one explained this part of life to me.  I’ve heard countless times about worrying when your child is sick, worrying when your child is not home.  No one mentions how it feels when your child is on the cusp of no longer being a child.

Yes, I’ve heard of empty nest syndrome.  But, I didn’t realize how all-consuming the weight of that impending life event could be.

I’ve always had one constant – being Nic’s mom.  I still will be.  But it won’t define me.  Perhaps it never should have.  But it did.  That was my thing that I treasured.  My role I never once wanted to give up.  My drive. My Raison d’être.

A part of me wants to press pause – to stop time.  That part of me is selfish.  Nic has so much in front of him to look forward to.  I’ll be a part of it, God willing.  I’ll cheer him on from the sidelines – always be there should he need me.

As for me?  This marble examination will pass.  I’ll find my center again – I always do.  I have faith, gratitude, hope and love in my heart.  Those things, once planted, don’t stop growing because time passes.  I won’t let them.

Tonight I’ll ring in the New Year with sparkling cider and savor the last “3, 2, 1! HAPPY NEW YEAR!’ with my ‘boy’.

Next year – who knows?  He may choose to spend the 3,2,1 with me instead of being at a party, or with a girlfriend or … OR maybe I’ll be at a party?  Who knows.