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"You are my heart...."

 Friday, March 27, 2015

"You are my heart....When you succeed, I succeed....when you fail, I fail....when you step, I step with you. You are my heart...You have to know that...." 

Dear Son,
It dawned on me the other day that you are getting dangerously close to the age I was when I gave birth to you.  I’m not going to lie, that knowledge terrifies me a bit.  Not simply because I don’t want you to become a teenage parent (which I don’t- at all), but because it means that you’ve reached a point in your life where the choices you make can and will impact you for years to come, if not forever.  How well you do in school, the types of people you associate with, and how you divvy up the pie chart that is your life between family, friends, girls, school, sports, etc., matters NOW. (For the record, it should go like this: school, family, sports, friends, girls.  I realize, however, that you probably want to do things in the exact opposite order.)
As much as I would love to keep you a baby forever, I can no longer deny the fact that you are becoming a young man, right before my eyes.  Which means that I have to make some changes, too.  I have to learn how to be the mother of a teenager, as opposed to a teenage mother. I'm going to be honest, I am struggling. Bad. I have to learn that I can’t fight your battles for you or hold your hand during every step of your journey into manhood.  I have to allow you to make mistakes and learn things the hard way.  And I have to learn how to become your friend. I have to learn how to juggle the two. 
Make no mistake, I will always be your mother before your friend.  I will still discipline you when it’s warranted and try to impart my “mom wisdom” on you when I can, no matter how stupid you think it is.  (Or how stupid you think I am.)  But I also have to start allowing you to make your own choices, to be who you are.  I need to stand back and watch as the things I’ve taught you about the world, about life, and about how to treat others, take hold on their own, without my reminders and lectures and constant nagging.  I need to learn how to enjoy the young man that you’ve become, and take pride in the part I’ve played in that.
In just five short years, you’ll be a legal adult.  You’ll be the same age I was when I gave birth to a beautiful brown-eyed baby boy.  The age I was when I met the love of my life.  (Yes, I’m talking about you.)  While teenage parenthood is not ideal (and again, not something I want you to experience- EVER), I wouldn’t change a thing, even if I could.  Just as I’ve watched you grow over the past thirteen years, you’ve done the same with me.  You’ve watched me make mistakes, have my heart broken, and fall down (literally and figuratively) more times than I can count.  You’ve seen and heard and been through things that I never wanted you to have to experience.  But the thing I hope you’ll take from it all, more than anything else, is that I always got back up.  I admitted when I was wrong, apologized when I should (usually), and didn’t let anything stop me.
I may not have been the one to teach you to play baseball, or wrestle, or even ride a bike, but hopefully I did teach you what it means to be a fighter.  To always follow your heart and your dreams, and to never give up, no matter how many setbacks you face.  I’m far from perfect.  You know that because you see my flaws firsthand.  And I’m sure that sometimes it must seem like I’m a hypocrite for disciplining you when I see you following in some of my more unfavorable footsteps.  If it seems like I expect more from you than I myself gave at your age, it’s because I do. 
I tell you all the time that we’re a lot alike, and it’s true.  Sometimes I feel that we’re too much alike.  (Which is probably why we argue as often as we do.)  But here’s where we differ: you’re better than me.  I know, because you are the best part of me.  And because you’ve seen the worst part of me.  I never tried to put myself on a pedestal for you, and maybe that’s in part because I was afraid of falling.  But I don’t regret it.  Growing up alongside you was a lot more fun anyway. You see baby boy, you are my heart. You are the one that gave me the strength I needed it. You are the one that I got out of the bed for each and every day. Your face is the one I saw when I was in the darkest part of my life and suicide crossed my mind. You are my heart. 
I’m writing you this letter in a moment of clarity, but I’m sure that tomorrow, or next week, or the week after that, I’ll try to pick out your school clothes, or stick my nose in “your business,” or let my hurt feelings show when you choose to spend your evening talking on the phone to your friends instead of  watching movies with me.  It will happen.  I promise.  But when it does, please try to have a little patience with me.  Because as hard as it was becoming a teen mom, I’m finding it a lot harder learning how to be the mom of a teenager.
I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.



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