Monday, April 4, 2011

A Decade Later

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.
He has grown so independent, in so many ways. There is so much that he does for himself. So much that I trust him with. He takes his responsibilities seriously... when he remembers. I think I'm starting to define what grown up is: It's when you remember to brush your teeth by yourself. We're not quite there yet. Talking to parents of other kids his age, it sounds like a common thing.

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.
For right now, I just want to bottle this moment and put it in a jar for safekeeping. This smart, quirky, energetic, obsessive, happy-but-sometimes-moody ten-year-old boyness. This beautiful spring morning in Italy, with the birds singing and the trees sprouting leaves, when my son still wants and needs me. This moment when my son will reach for my hand at the crosswalk and say, "Mom, have I told you about..."


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. What a lovely post, Kat and please say Happy Birthday to Brandon for me. The other day I read an interview with David Bowie's son who is now producing films and he talked a bit about his young life with Bowie. He said his dad was a great dad, despite all the hype and things that were going on at the time, because he involved him in things he loved. He encouraged him to read books and look at art and he discussed these things with him so he had a very deep shared experience with his father. I thought of this when I read your post because I also thought about your recent posts on finding your inner artist. Maybe this is the way your relationship with Brandon will go as well.

  3. Happy Birthday to Brandon!

    Happy memory making day to you Kat, your son looks a lot like you, he is a very lucky young lad to have you as his mum. My youngest gets married in May, I still want him to sit on my knee, he won't any more ;~) I'm so proud of him, I managed to stop him throwing his dirty socks on the top of his wardrobe before he left home! He has grown to be a very happy, humorous and responsible being, that is all I could have hoped for.

    Sue x

  4. Hi, Kat, say Happy Birthday to Brandon from me and my sis! He is a wonderful boy! :)

  5. What a beautiful post! My son is 36 years old now, but I remember 10 well. I was strict about certain behavior and courtesy as he was growing up, but freedom of thought was a wide open realm. Teaching him to make his own decisions and accept the consequences, talking about life and all the challenges...helping to guide another soul into good and bad as it gets. ;)

    It's like teaching them to ride a bike. You can explain, demonstrate, help them climb up, take off the training wheels (we never had them, actually), support them for a while, help them up when they fall...but you have to let go eventually so they can travel on their own. If they come back to tell you about their journey and ask you about yours...priceless!

    Brandon is a charming boy. This is such a special time for you all. Take full advantage of this digital age and take lots and lots of pictures and videos. The next decade will fly by, too! Happy Birthday, Brandon.

  6. Happy Birthday to your son... Rita is right, it's like teaching them to ride a bike... It's true one day you look at your children and they are adults and you say "when did that happen?"

    But a funny thing, they still need you and your guidance because you are still their Mom...

  7. What a great post. I loved what you said, "He's not becoming the person he was meant to be, he already is that person". What a wise mom you are!

  8. Happy Birthday B, 19 is a big deal. You may be almost grownup but remember those who are loving your thru the Journey. They have helped you be who you are. I would say, you are a very lucky boy. Best wishes on Year 11! May it be the best...

  9. What a beautiful post. Ten is a wonderful age and you're right it all goes by so fast. My son is 22 now but it seems only yesterday he was the age of your boy. Happy Birthday to Brandon.

  10. Felicitaciones! Brandon is adorable! I remember when our girls joined the double digits. The teen years go by so fast (that's a blessing in many cases) and then they're adults! You have so much wisdom, Kat, and seem to have a great handle on mothering.

  11. Happy Birthday to Brandon!!!! Such a great age and yes, they do grow up terribly fast. The teen years really sped by at our house. I think because they were filled with so much activity and kids coming and going! That will all be upon you soon. And, then you blink and your child's off to college and no longer a child!

  12. Lovely post. And Happy Birthday to Brandon.
    Ten is certainly an important milestone.
    I'm quite certain you are doing a fabulous job of raising a wonderful young man.

  13. Lovely post! And such a handsome young man! Wishing him a happy birthday!

  14. What a beautifully written post, which as an 'empty nester' made me feel somewhat sentimental for those times.

  15. Happy Birthday Brandon!
    And what a wonderful post this is Kat. One of your best!

  16. A belated, but heartfelt, Happy Birthday to Brandon! You should print this post out and save it to read 10 years from now. It may seem like a very long time, but trust me, it will fly by. My youngest is but 2 years away from thirty! Now how did that happen?


What's your view of the world? I love to hear yours too!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.