Unbelievably to me, my oldest son just turned 18. This is a huge milestone, mostly because he’s now legally an adult. An adult! He can join the military, buy tobacco products, get arrested and put in regular, adult jail (scary!). He can vote, make a will, sign contracts, get sued, and is eligible for jury duty. Basically, he now has the legal right to do everything (within the law) except purchase and consume alcohol. Amazing. Didn’t I just bring him home from the hospital, in that little infant car seat with the teddy bear print? Wasn’t it yesterday that I held his chubby little hand as he enthusiastically ran through the doors of his preschool and learned how to count? And I swear, it was just last night that he cried out from his crib because he had gotten hold of the Vaseline jar from the changing table and smeared it all over his face, the walls, and into his soft, auburn hair.
Having a baby at 22 was the single scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I wasn’t ready. I knew I wasn’t ready, but…well…these things happen. And for that, I will be eternally grateful! He unwittingly introduced me to the art of parenting and, through the ups and downs of being my guinea pig, has been a beacon of light and the source of some of my greatest joy, frustration, and pride. He is, and always will be, my baby: my sweet, raspy-voiced, precocious, nature-loving, little boy.
As we’re looking at colleges and talking about the next chapter in his life, I can’t help but to become a little wistful. All those times I felt completely spent after long, exhausting days cleaning up after an active toddler who refused to sleep past 5 a.m., and some older person would see me, haggard and drooping, with my little firecracker in tow, and say, “Enjoy him now. It goes by quickly,” I would think Yeah, right. You just forgot how hard this is. Well, I’m here to tell you, it does indeed go by quickly. The days are often long, but the years just fly.
I love all my boys more than I ever imagined was possible, and Eli continues to be the guinea pig for my parenting, but what I’ve come to learn and really appreciate is just how fast time does go and how finite our time is to do the best job we can in raising our children. Being a mom still scares me sometimes, but the love that causes my heart to swell for these wonderfully sweet, funny boys of mine, is so worth that occasional discomfort. And now that my oldest is an “adult,” I catch myself admiring the young man he has become and think, I did okay.