Last week, my first baby turned thirteen.
He grew a few inches over the summer, and now likes to walk up to me (especially if he's got shoes on and I'm barefoot) and smile down at me. In a nice way, I should say, not like: I'm finally bigger than you, let's see you make me go to bed when you think I ought to NOW, Lady! Ha ha!
Maybe that part is coming up, but for now he's just straight-up bemused with it all.
He's half as old I was when he was born, and he's been with me now for 1/3 of my life. And it's funny, because Lex has been Lex since he got here, but he's also a different person every few months just because that's how kids often are. One day last month he came home and announced that he'd joined the wrestling team at school, which *literally* made me cock my head and look at him sideways. And while I wouldn't have ever predicted that choice, turns out it's very much him and he really loves it. It's so nice getting to watch you get to know you, kid, I want to tell him.
He's confident, he's honest with me, he does his own thing with no apologies to the friends in his group who aren't interested. Eh, whatever, is his take on it, I don't have to do all the stuff they do. It's cool.
I was taking his photo, that pose above is from his actual birthday, and he was monkeying around and being funny, and I was looking at him through my camera viewfinder thinking to myself, Hold it right there . . . perfect, in the literal sense of getting a good photo, when I realized that I do want him to hold it right there — mentally, emotionally, spiritually, whateverily — as he goes through these next few years. It's not that the choices we make as teenagers are bound to define us forever and always, but they certainly have the raw power to always have a felt influence. I want so very badly for him to still be this way in six years; for always.
I just turned thirty nine, and I look at my son and I think about how I'm letting him go, just very exactly like letting go of a bird flying from my hands. There's that little moment where all you can do is lift your hands up high as you let go and hope, probably with your eyes closed, that you've remembered all the stuff you were supposed to tell them about flying. I don't feel like I'm finished raising him, but I bet that secretly I've already done the work that matters the most. All that's left is the reminding him to keep his eye on those stars up there.
And in our same-colored, parallel way I'm here feeling my own potential. You don't have to be young to look forward to your future. Bright is bright is bright.