Today is a big day, in our family. Today is the day that my son Brandon turns ten. Ten years old. A decade of life. I've realized of late, if he goes off to college at eighteen, we have less left with him in the house than we've already spent. What seems so long at the outset, with all of the sleepless nights and diapers, is really so short, when you're on the side of looking back.
I shared this image, snapped with my iPod on a neighborhood walk, a couple of weeks ago. It's stuck in my mind since then, because it visualized how I feel about my son perfectly. He is my heart, outside myself. We are attached and yet separate. He is still smaller than me, but that won't last long.
He is at the cusp. No longer child, not yet teenager or adult. He doesn't want physical displays of affection in public yet his body betrays him. His had reaches for mine as we cross the street, his body leans in as I go to hug him, even if his mouth tells me to stop. At this moment, he still wants me, needs me, in his life.
|A rare moment last November when he posed for a few photos.|
I have been pondering, at the decade mark, what my role is as a parent. We've moved well beyond the point of protecting him from putting his had on the stove or drinking household cleaners. We've moved into more intellectual discussions of how to treat his friends, what is happening to his body, how to deal with peer pressure, taking responsibility for his own actions and decisions. And of course, reminders of basic hygeine seems to be a continual thread of conversation.
All in all, I think I've come to the conclusion that my role as a parent, a mother, is to help my son be who he is. He's not becoming the person he was meant to be, he already is that person. It's my job to make sure he isn't forced into being something other than he is, especially as we head into the teen years. That he learns to recognize and follow his intuition, his heart. That he doesn't fall in the trap of living his life for other people's expectations... mine or anyone else.
It's a fine line, isn't it? On the one had, I spend my time reminding him of expectations (Brush your teeth! Pick up your clothes!) and on the other I'm talking about helping him learn to avoid living by the expectations of others. That's the mine field we'll have to carefully cross in the teenage years. We're not quite there yet.
|Taking a self-portrait with his Nintendo dsi at a car museum last weekend.|