My son turns 16 today.
And after all of these years, I can still remember staring up at the ceiling of the operating room in the wee hours of the morning, after over 24 hours of labor, waiting for the doctor to cut me open and extract this kid.
(The room was so old it resembled a MASH unit so I also remember thinking, “If I get out of here without an infection, I’ll be lucky.”)
But then the cord was cut and I can remember seeing my kid’s eyes looking up at me, as if to say, “It’s about time you got me out of there.”
He had the sweetest little monkey face I’d ever seen. I fell in love immediately.
And now 16 years later, in the wee hours of the school morning, as he sits at the kitchen counter and eats his breakfast, when it’s only me and him awake, I can stare at his teenage face and still see a few bits of that little monkey deep inside him.
But this year’s birthday is different for me. This year, instead of my annual “Oh no, how did he get to be this old?”, I’m feeling more like, “Yes, this is exactly how old he should be.”
I’m not sure what’s making me feel different this year.
Maybe its because I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t stop time. Kids are born. They grow up. They leave the house. And come back to visit from time to time.
(Unless of course you have a basement. Then your kid never leaves because he lives in the basement forever. We have no basements in South Florida.)
Maybe I’m not bemoaning the fact that he’s turning 16 because he’s so clearly a teenager, a high school student and a kid who has his sights set on college.
Independent in so many ways. At school. With his homework. And his friends. Except at home. I need to teach him how to sew. How to cook. How to do his own laundry.
It’s time for all of those things. It’s past time.
But it’s not too late.
I have two more years. And I’m going to milk them for all they’re worth.
Happy 16th birthday to my son.
I’m proud of who you are. And even prouder of who you are becoming.
I love you sweet monkey boy.
Now put your dishes in the dishwasher and don’t miss the bus.
Bottom photo courtesy of his grandmother