The One That Wasn't Planned

I was planning on sharing another post, but it'll have to wait. My oldest son turned 15 today, and I'm finding it hard to think about other things tonight. Since he's the oldest, his birthdays, especially, give me all the feels. Sometimes it's just so surreal to me that we've even made it this far. We've come through a lot; nothing terrible, TERRIBLE, but enough to say I'm glad we've made it to where we are today. Sometime, I'll tell you about it all, but that, too, is a story for another day.

Tonight, I can't help but think back to where I was when I turned 15. On the edge of 15, I had just finished my freshman year of high school; I had gone through that shift from the top rung of middle school back to the bottom of the heap. I had lost old friends and made new ones. I  had played two sports, become part of various clubs, and finished the year with good grades. I had my first REAL boyfriend that year.

What I didn't know was that 15 was going to mark a turning point in my life. Fifteen was the first time a boy I loved broke my heart. It was the year my parents separated and told us my dad would be moving out of the house. It was the year I met my son's dad and entered into the most turbulent relationship I have ever known, one full of heartache and emotional stress. One that caused me to forget myself. One most adults wouldn't know how to handle, and one that I certainly didn't know how to handle at the time. And, ultimately, it was a year that led to this 15-year-old I have today.

The transition from middle school to high school is a hard one. So much of their lives change almost over night, particularly for kids who attend a small K-8 school before moving on to high school. Their schedules change; their friends change; school and sports both make a much greater demands on their time; they are solely responsible for communicating with coaches, teachers, and parents; they have to redefine themselves and figure out where they fit in.

This last year has been a tough one in some ways for my guy. He's gone through all these changes. This year, he made both the basketball and baseball teams, and, while he enjoyed playing, he also experienced difficulties and disappointments in both seasons. And he's come through this year in pretty good shape. His grades are good. He's working hard (most of the time). He's learned how to communicate better with his teachers. He's gotten more responsible. He's stuck out two difficult sports seasons and not given up. He has surprised us, in a good way, with his adjustment to high school. Bu hard as this year has been, I know the coming ones will be harder in their way. More trying. A greater test of his character.

Many of you have probably realized by now that parenting is really fucking hard. Like, really REALLY hard. No other job on this green earth requires you to give up your soul to another person's needs and wants day in and day out. No other job takes that much out of you. But I am realizing now that, no matter how hard it is to have young children, it will be much harder to have a young adult. The sleepless nights will still be there, only now it will be because he has a later curfew, and I will need to see him, safe, with my own eyes before I can go to bed. Remember how you baby-proofed the house when your child first started walking so there was NO. POSSIBLE. WAY. he/she could fall down and get hurt? You'll want to baby-proof the whole world to guard against car accidents, sports injuries, and broken hearts. The problem with having a teenager is, you still want to protect your baby and make sure that everything goes right in their world, but you can no longer be there, holding their hands, balancing them, guiding them through every step of the way and making sure they do not fall.

We put so much of ourselves into our little people and we hope that, one day, when they are old enough, when we are no longer there to take control of a situation that feels like it's too much for them, when they are wavering between making the right choice and making the wrong one, they will hear our voices in their heads and they will have the strength and the courage to do what they need to do.

I can only hope that I have provided the tools and support for him to choose right.