So this happened 18 years ago today: My oldest son was born. Excuse me while I go and cry in the corner about how it went way too fast and how I didn’t believe my mother-in-law when she said you blink and they’re in college and how I can’t stand that my mother job has been downsized.
All these years of responsibility and never being able to go to the bathroom by myself or wear clean clothes or cook the foods I want to eat or watch the shows I want to watch because of this little person I love so much and how all I want to do is nurture him to death until he pushes me away and even then I just can’t let go. I’m a Smother.
All those firsts in his life - first smile, first laugh, first time he rolled over, first tooth, first haircut, first day of school. And now, my “first” is an adult, and I’m experiencing the first moment of joy and grief all balled together in one tangled mess of tears. Because that’s what I do: I laugh and cry, let go and then hold on, and have to let go again, and watch as my heart walks around outside my body and right out into the world.
And there’s this empty spot in my nest and in my heart. And I have to learn to fill it with new love and new experiences with this man child. Because he still needs me. Or so, I am going to believe. I will still do his laundry and sometimes make his bed and clean up after him and tell him to be home early and go to bed on time. But I also have to learn to let him make his own choices both good and bad and support and love him just the same. And this will be another "First."
I’ve cried a lot this last year leading up to his adulthood. Because I knew it was coming. I had moments I’d like to forget. Like when I told his brothers in front of him that he was no longer part of this family when he got a driver’s license and started spending all of his time with friends and not us. Because that spot at the dinner table sat empty way too many nights. Didn’t he CARE about me? Didn’t he realize I had FEELINGS?
It was like he broke up with me and wasn’t even sad about it. He was off living his life, and I sat at home, mourning his loss and smelling his shirts and wishing he would realize that in fact, he would rather spend time with ME after school and on the weekends. That it was ME he wanted to be with.
But that’s just weird and wrong.
I warned Ethan last night that I might just spend this whole day sobbing, and please just ignore me. It’ll be okay. Sometimes moms do that. I have pulled out the baby books and will force him to look through them with me and remember all these sweet moments when he still liked me. (I promise not to say that last part out loud.) I will tell him stories of all the adorable things he did and remind him that I was in TWENTY SEVEN HOURS OF LABOR with him in mid-August 116 degree HEAT with no A/C, and he still would not come out! So he was evicted with an emergency C-section.
That kid is so laid back and chill, and nothing alarms him. Due date? What’s that? 10 days late? Give it a few more. Are we talking about the day he was born, or that homework assignment?
This firstborn son who is so much like his father it’s uncanny. And then, how he is so much like no one but himself, and it’s beautiful. He didn’t come with a manual which he certainly should have. And yet, this was the kid who came out with a full head of hair perfectly combed and was independent by age 6 months.
Ethan Nathaniel Harris, I love you. You have deeply enriched my life and have taught me so much about God’s love. You are a gift to me, your family and to this world. I cannot wait to see how God uses you in these coming years to bring joy to those around you.
Happy 18, Big E.