Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Happy Birthday, Ryan
My oldest turns 17 today; I suppose he is 17 at this point. He was up early and gone half an hour before normal slogging-time this morning because he got a call at 11 last night demanding he be early. So he is. I demanded pictures - it's one of the reasons I got him the phone, after all....
With this momentus day, I can't help but to reflect, almost more than I do on my own birthday. After all, on my day it's just a mark of time passing. Here, today, I have to question all of it. Did I do right by him? Am I showing a good role model? Am I leading him to greatness or just middleroad mediocrity? Will he get what it is to live or remain in the confines of structural rules forever? What will his future hold and have I prepared him for it at all? Doubt, regret, fear, hope... it all crawls into it.
Fearfully, I find remeberance falls into it, too. I can't help but apply my own youthful experiences to him. But with so many differences, how can it be relevant at all? Plus, I'm not a boy. That and I was living on my own in my mother's house with four strangers and no guiding focus at 17; hardly relevant to my son, the junior. I try to simply remember my attitude about life at 17 so that I can react to him without being superiorly defensive. I knew everything at 17, the world was messed up, I had to find my niche to fix it all, and I just had to go to college because that is what you do. With these glasses, I often can only nod, knowingly, to his revelations on life, to his requests to go out with friends at 11pm on a school night, to his inability to discuss something scheduled for next week because AP tests are this week ("I'm just stressed, mom, and can't face it now"). I don't laugh in his presence about it; it's all so very critical, so life-ending, so important. Because, now, 20-years on, it is so important what my SAT score was and what Michelle thought of me. Those thoughts, that path, led me here, no doubt, but not without so much more in between. But he doesn't know this yet, he can't. So I can't treat him as though he does.
I can't imagine I'll be done with these thoughts in a year. Protective, motherly thoughts don't stop when the child officially becomes not-a-child. I just chose his path to be one of the things I didn't have, not one of the familiar things I did, and hope to have made his life better for it.