I sat there watching his lips moving as he talked about work but I didn’t hear a single word he said. Instead, my attention was drawn to the stubble that sprinkled his cheeks and chin.
He’s no longer my baby boy…..
This man, my Tyler, is turning 20. And as ridiculous and dramatic as it sounds, it's moments like these when I notice… really notice… that he truly is grown up now.
I ache for the years that have melted away.
...for the years when his chin was a place I wiped dribbles of mac and cheese from, not a place he needed to shave.
...for the years when I was drawn into his little face by his cheesy grin and adorable cheeks. I could stare at him for hours back then… while he slept, while he ate, while we just cuddled in the rocking chair.
It’s not so cool to stare at him now.
I remember holding him in the hospital….his quiet gaze, looking right into my eyes, as if he were memorizing my face; his cute little button nose; his teeny fingernails; …I treasure countless memories of that day.
I blinked, and it’s now 20 years later.
We coexist as adults for the most part, chatting about school or work, and mostly doing our own thing. I love having adult conversations with him, especially when we discuss baseball and college basketball. And although I love to hear his laugh, I miss hearing his devilish childhood giggle. I miss seeing his feet stick out from under a blanket pretending to be asleep and then tensing up because he knew I was coming to tickle him. Life moves forward and it’s easy to forget that he was my baby.
Is my baby, still.
I know that 21 is supposed to be the big exciting age because a person can legally drink alcohol. But to me, 20 is more significant. Tyler is leaving his teens behind forever. As a man in his 20's, he’s part of the adult world now, and this decade of his life will probably see the greatest number of meaningful changes.
Tyler turning 20 also means that I’ve been doing this mother-thing for two decades. Wow, are you kidding me? How do I wrap my mind around this? Like all new moms, I had no idea what I was doing. I guess at some point along the way, I figured it out. I needed to parent, to counsel and to adore. To build his confidence and his character, to help him survive heartbreak and disappointment and move forward with dignity. I raised him for the future and not the present day. He needs to be able to survive when I’m no longer around.
As I watched him talk and laugh I was awed by the simple fact that I am his mom. That I was given these 20 years with him unconditionally, even though I had no experience and there were no guarantees that I would be a good mother.
I just made it up as I went along.
There are no second chances….No do-overs. But you know what? I wouldn’t really change a thing. Because my boy, this young man who will be turning 20 in a couple days, has given me the incredible gift of just being his mom.
And he will always be the baby in my heart.